Episode 54: Leaping, Forgetfulness, Being Human And More (Podcast)

Episode 54: Leaping, Forgetfulness, Being Human And More (Podcast)

On this episode of In The Box Podcast we gave advice to those who are about to take a leap, discussed what it means when someone says one needs to be “more human,” what we buy online, how to respond to someone who you were supposed to follow up with weeks ago and not one, but two tips on how to not stress out about not remembering an idea you didn’t write down. Enjoy.

Episode 54: Leaping, Forgetfulness, Being Human And More

Leaping – What advice do you have for people who are about to take a leap?

Being human – What does it mean when someone says to be human?

Online – What do you buy online?

Forgetfulness – How do you respond if you forget to communicate with someone you said you were going to communicate with?

Bonus – You think of a great idea but can’t write it down — one tip on how to not fret if you can’t remember the idea later?


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Episode 22: Stealing Ideas, Working With Narcissists, Making Art For Yourself And More – Podcast

Episode 22: Stealing Ideas, Working With Narcissists, Making Art For Yourself And More – Podcast

On this episode of In The Box Podcast, we took a stab at answer questions about making art for others or for yourself, one way to gain clarity when faced with a decision between two options, why people fear their ideas getting stolen, one way to handle a heavier workload (likely due to a promotion) and what to do when engaging with a narcissist. Enjoy.

Episode 22: Stealing Ideas, Working With Narcissists, Making Art For Yourself And More

Art – Make art for self or others?

Decisions – One way to gain clarity when confused about making a decision?

Stolen – Should people fear their ideas being stolen?

Responsibility load – What is one way to handle being given more responsibility (think like getting a promotion)?

Bonus – One way to deal with interacting with a narcissist?


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Advice To My Younger Self

Advice To My Younger Self

During meditation earlier my mind began to wonder. For some reason it went back to some childhood memories, of moments that I thought I was the only one who thought something or experienced something.

You know the odd-looking air on the horizon of a road, it’s almost as if it was heat or some fume? When I asked anyone driving in the car with me if they saw it, they responded as if I was crazy. I believed them.

Or, to the extreme, thinking of jumping off a building you’re on. Everyone has thought it at one point, but in the moment we feel so alone, as if we’re the only ones who think these things and we get uncomfortable about it.

The advice I’d give to my younger self is “you’re going to think about a lot of things that you will think are unique to you. They’re not.”

The reason I’d say this to my younger self, and to you, now, is that we have thoughts, which we quickly dispel based on the premise that we think we’re the only ones to think it. It’s a tragedy, really.

You think you’re the only one who has come up with a spectacular idea, but you’re not.

Think Jobs was the only one to think of transportable music in your pocket? Think Gladwell was the only one to wonder about cockpit culture and why planes crash? The answer is yes, you do.

And we’re wrong in that thinking; they’re merely the only ones who acted on an idea. You can be them if you realize you’re not the only one who thinks about things differently, who has the thoughts you do, who has an idea that just might damn well work.


Stay Positive & Worth A Try Right?

Thinking Harder May Not Be The Best Option

but thinking differently certainly could be. (Hint: it is)

The best writing, jokes, puns, speeches, services, projects, ads, advice, adventures, plans, business ideas… come from thinking about things differently. Of course, then you must apply action to the thought.

It’s unlikely your idea is original, but the real life creation and implementation of that idea is.


Stay Positive & See, Think, Do Things Differently

Unlocking Potential #13: Q&A With Ryan Paugh

Ryan Paugh

When researching for a story centered on entrepreneurs under 30, a friend connected me with Ryan Paugh. At the time, Ryan was at Brazen Careerist writing, speaking and preaching about career-management. He was big into entrepreneurship… still is.

Like all the others on the unlocking potential series, Ryan is a linchpin. He is the source, the center of many entrepreneurial circles, providing resources and connecting people just as my friend connected me with him.

Without further ado… welcome, Ryan.

Q: You’re known for building epic communities. What does an epic community look like to you?

Ryan: An epic community is one that can help you unlock any door in your industry or trade. For communities like YEC and FounderSociety, we aspire to help our members gain access to everything they need to grow successful businesses.

Q: How did you get to where you’re at now? What’s your story?

Ryan: This is very geeky, but blogging changed my life. After I graduated college I started a blog with one of my best friends about Gen Y entering the workforce. Through the blog came my first business, Brazen Careerist, which was a free community for Gen Y professionals seeking career happiness.

Q: What’s the best and worst parts of being an entrepreneur?

Ryan: The best part about being an entrepreneur is having control over your own destiny. The worst part about being an entrepreneur is the toll it takes on your personal life and the lack of stability.

Q: What gets you filled up with passion and ready to take on the world, to go the distance, to be in it for the long haul?

Ryan: My family. Now that I’m a father especially, I find that I’m more motivated to be successful than I have ever been. I want my family to live the best life possible. I want them to see me as their hero.

Q: What do you see people regularly failing to do while starting a business? What would you suggest they do differently?

Ryan: Spending too much time on one idea is a common startup killer. Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they didn’t get it right on the first try. They had to iterate on their existing idea to make it work.

Q: What are four hacks you can share? They can be about life, relationships, getting a job, starting a business, whatever you would like.

Hack #1. Invest in a virtual assistant and outsource work that takes away from building your business. Challenge yourself to delegate at least one new thing per week to your assistant.

Hack #2. Perfect is stupid. Come up with an idea for a business. Build the minimum viable product (MVP) as quickly as you can and get it to market. Iterate based on feedback from your early customers to get better.

Hack #3. Become an early riser or a night owl and you will get more accomplished than 99 percent of the population.

Hack #4. Take care of yourself. You physical and mental health are strongly linked to your success.

Q: Here’s an open-ended question for you: What are your thoughts on waiting?

Ryan: Don’t.

Q: What about failure?

Ryan: Embrace it.

Q: Would you tell us about a truly challenging time and how you got through it (or didn’t!)?

Ryan: Without going into too much detail, I had a health scare a couple months ago that left me feeling mentally paralyzed. It took weeks for me to feel better and get back to my business. The reason I was able to take the time off that I needed to recover was my amazing team. At some point in the future, you’re going to need to take some time off too and it will go a lot smoother if your company can operate with you missing. Being a great leader means learning how to delegate to your team and trust that they can get the job done. You should spend time early on in your career getting comfortable with this. You’ll thank yourself later.

Q: What are three lessons people should know about building a community?

  • Community businesses are are some of the most difficult businesses to run. I love what I do, but it’s not an easy road to riches. There are plenty of other avenues you could take to get rich quick
  • Great customer service can keep a paying customer loyal even when the product still needs work.
  • People will pay a premium for a concierge-level community experience.

Q: What makes an idea or a business or a person remarkable?

Ryan: Vulnerability. I’m drawn to people, ideas, and businesses that are not afraid to be what they are even if that might lead to them being criticized.

Q: Any last advice you want to give someone in marketing or someone who is thinking of starting a business?

Ryan: Share your ideas with as many people as possible.

Q: Lastly, where can people find you and the remarkable work you do? (Shamelessly self-promote here.)

Ryan: The communities I’m currently building are YEC and FounderSociety. We also run a great startup advice website for early-stage entrepreneurs. Follow me on Twitter. I try to blog semi frequently at ryanpaugh.com.


Stay Positive & Go Share Your Ideas, Be A Hero, Start Something

What It Takes For Ideas To Spread

Ideas That Spread

As I’m ironing out speech ideas and book ideas, I’m ruminating on the difficulty of introducing an idea that spreads.

We no longer need a book or a speech or a consultation to tell us how to solve a problem we have. Google and YouTube is there for that. If you’re searching for a “How to,” the Internet is your friend.

But the “Why do” …that might be worthy of print media or a Ted talk or a podcast.

Instead of producing something that shares a solution to someone’s problem, we have the opportunity to share something we are passionate about with someone who might not know they had a problem with their “why,” which, may in turn alter the “how to” they seek.

Our goal, then, ought to be to find those who don’t know they need help and proceed to inspire them with an idea worth spreading.

For a spreadable idea, you few things must fall into place:

1) You must be passionate about an idea that is, at minimum, different from what has been done before. The cue here is often the saying, “We’re doing things just a bit different.” For an idea to spread, there must be both a sense of security (doing things that we know already works) and a little adventure (but doing them a bit differently).

2) The audience must understand the basics of your idea, which you typically don’t need to go in depth about. Recall, Google has you covered as well as bookstores when it comes to the basics. Ideas that spread aren’t sent out to beginners, they are given as a gift to those who 1) understand the foundation of your idea already and 2) trust you. Which leads us to the third and final variable.

3) Ideas spread as quickly as the path established for them allows; that is, the relationship you have, the connection you have built determines the speed at which an idea can spread. The stronger the relationship, the easier it is for an idea to go viral. This goes further than just making a connection between you and someone in your target audience; it requires you to connect your target audience to each other, ultimately creating multiple pathways for the idea to spread.

Lastly, ideas don’t spread simply by throwing them out there. Ideas spread when they are remarkable, as in, worth making remarks about, worth talking to others about, worth sharing.

For an idea to resonate, the idea must focus on the part of doing or thinking about things differently.


Stay Positive & Go Spread Something Remarkable

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Unlocking Potential #10: Q&A With Alex Birkett

Alex BirkettLinchpins are driven and self-efficient. They make themselves essential. While rock stars amaze me and underdogs amaze me, those people you don’t see coming and then they zip right past you, they amaze me the most.

Alex is a lot like a car you see in your rear view mirror one second, and then it’s a mile ahead of you the next second.

Alex was on my agency team when working with Lands’ End where I first saw him hit the gas pedal. Now he’s working at a tech startup in Texas and continues to inspire plenty (including me) with his writing.

Without further ado, enjoy the Q&A with this Linchpin.

Q: How do you handle the “What do you do?” question everyone asks when you meet them?

Alex: I like to tell people, “I mow lawns!” Then they usually look at me like I’m a weirdo, and I tell them, “I’m working on a tech startup called LawnStarter and also do a variety of freelance marketing and write for a magazine.” Then they usually still look at me like a weirdo, so I just tell them I’m a happy workaholic.

Q: What’s your story?

Alex: I grew up in a small town, played some sports and started a punk rock band. Then, I went to the University of Wisconsin, where I graduated from the Journalism School (studying strategic communications). I went from working with one of my favorite bands, Shiny Toy Guns, to working with Madison Craft Beer Week, Arctica Race, and and WiCC. Then I got to build the marketing team at WUD Music, which tied together two of my top interests. I think I worked like 35 hours per week the last two years of college, which prepared me for those infamously long startup hours. I’m currently hustling and grinding in Austin, TX, trying to build a tech startup called LawnStarter. I act as the marketing director for Arctica Race, a ski racing company, and I write for a magazine, RSVLTS.

Q: What’s the best part of marketing to you?

Alex: I like building things. I like the feeling of productive energy creating something beautiful, and marketing gives me that sense of accomplishment. From ideation to strategy to tactics and execution, it’s a process that fuses my creative with my rational side. I’m also a huge fan of optimizing processes and getting more out of less, and I like what technology has made capable for optimizing marketing efforts.

Q: What do you see marketers failing to notice, say or do?

Alex: There are a lot of PR agencies, advertising agencies, business development agencies etc, etc, that reach out to us on our contact form or somehow get our emails. Most of them send us obnoxious form letters or terribly written pitches. If you can’t pitch us your business, how the hell are you going to do business development or public relations on our behalf?

Q: Where do you find inspiration to grow, to create, to go?

Alex: I lift heavy weights 4 times per week, do yoga once, and run once (I hate cardio). I read audiobooks in the morning and paperback books at night. I drink a ton of really good coffee. I spend time with people smarter, more successful and better looking than I am. I’m a competitive bastard so that makes me want to get better too. I also spend a lot of time on the weekends either on the water, golfing, or hiking. Something semi-active but also relaxing.

Q: What are three life lessons anyone (marketers or not) should know?


  1. “If you have two choices, choose the harder.”-Paul Graham

  2. Treat everyone like normal people, because they are normal people.

  3. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”-Jim Rohn

Bonus: If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

Q: What has been a terrible marketing or customer service experience and how would you have resolved it if you were on the other end?

Alex: AT&T U-verse was a pretty terrible experience. I believe that investing in an amazing customer experience is the best marketing decision you can make. When you’re competing with giants, your competition can outspend you on marketing dollars, but it’s hard to compete with a rewarding customer experience. If I was AT&T, I’d take some of my stupid advertisements off the air and reinvest that money in some competent support staff.

Q: Since I know you well, I know you’ve jumped ship at an agency for a more startup-ish gig. Can you expand on that? What’s so special about startups that you can’t find at an agency? Or am I missing the point completely?

Alex: I could write a book on that question, but I’ll try to sum it up with this: I’ve always been interested in startups & entrepreneurship. I like to feel ownership over my work, and that ownership is something intrinsically lacking when working at an agency, because, well you’re marketing someone else’s work. When I met Ryan and Steve (co-founders of LawnStarter), I knew I wanted to work with them because they were scrappy, hard working, and passionate about building awesome shit. Working on a startup is unique, especially when you do it at a young age. You never get the ‘luxury’ of developing bad working habits. You don’t surf reddit at work because it’s your equity and pride on the line. Startups also have a crazy tight-knit community where everyone is willing to help one another, seemingly without personal gain. Overall, it’s a pretty awesome place to be.

Q: What’s a project you want to start and see all the way through?

Alex: Well, LawnStarter of course! I have a million ideas, and I’m naturally a restless person. But sometimes life requires focus, and working on a tech startup is one of those glorious times. When LawnStarter exits, I wouldn’t mind meeting up with some ambitious co-founders to work on one of these weird ideas stewing in my head.

Q: What are a few habits people need to develop to become successful in business or startups or marketing?

Alex: I’m not too sure what it takes to be successful working at a big company because I chose to join a startup right after college. To be successful in a startup, you need to love working. I believe you also need to know when and how to take a breather and collect yourself. No matter what you’re involved in, I think you should develop a habit of perpetual learning. Our minds ossify when we obstinately believe that we’re experts. I also want to say that you need to ‘network’ to be successful, but I hate the word ‘networking.’ Just be a good person, do amazing work, and reach out to people you want to meet. No need to wear a nametag at a hotel bar.

Q: What do you do that always sees best results?

Alex: I don’t think I’ve found any absolutes in life, but I’ve never regretted putting bacon on a sandwich of any kind.

Q: If you had to give advice to people starting out in the world of PR or marketing or entrepreneurship, what would you say?

Alex: If you’re still in college, focus on getting a ton of relevant and impressive experience. Join some clubs, too. I always wish I did more of that early on. If you’re into entrepreneurship, you may just want to skip the whole college thing. Though your parents may be disappointed, so if you have to do the college thing, get together with some like-minded students and start building something. There are tons of reasonable sounding excuses, but there’s no way around that one.

Q: Do you have a motto you follow?

Alex: I guess I don’t, really. If I had to pick, this is what came to mind first: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”-Mark Twain

Q: Where can people connect with you and find your art/work/writing/etc,.?

Alex: I’ve got a website that I barely update, but I do write for a variety of publications. Your best bet is to follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn, or shoot me an email at iamalexbirkett@gmail.com


Stay Positive & Kick It Into Gear