What I’m working on this week (Apr. 30 – May 5)


Yep, I’m not working on anything. Gosh, I love writing that.

This past month I’ve been pretty focused on a client’s book (plus finishing up some other projects and starting some new ones) and I basically ran out of steam. I needed a break. So I’m taking one! (Plus, it coincided with my anniversary, so I get to hang out with my wife a little more, too).

I might still try to blog once or twice but if you try to reach me this week, my email will autoreply that I’m unavailable.

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Rules of the Scrappy Capitalist: Rule 4 – Act fast; Learn more

Yesterday’s capitalists had a lock on success because newbies couldn’t easily break into business or investing. But the web changed everything. Today, anyone can be a successful entrepreneur, stock trader, or real estate investor.

Because of the easy access to opportunities that were once reserved exclusively for the elite, entrepreneurs and investors need to be particularly aggressive if they want to succeed. They need to be scrappy capitalists.

There are six rules that a scrappy capitalist follows to be successful. Here’s the fourth one:


Scrappy capitalists spiral upward toward success by doing two things — acting fast and learning more — and scrappy capitalists do these two things over and over again in a never-ending upward cycle.

When scrappy capitalists act fast, they find opportunities and quickly act on them. They move forward toward a critical mass. For example:

  • An entrepreneur might learn about an opportunity one afternoon and that evening they might put together a website, invest in some AdWords to test their theories, and create an ebook over a weekend to cash in on the opportunity.
  • A capital markets investor might learn about a stock one afternoon and then access a number of trusted, bookmarked sites to do quick, effective research on that stock before making a decision to buy it.
  • A real estate investor might meet a seller with a great property and, using a variety of internet tools and a network of people, the investor can decide in just a couple of short hours whether or not the property is worth investing in.

Ultimately, acting fast means watching carefully for opportunities and knowing when to pounce on them.

When scrappy capitalists learn more, they strategically pursue deeper knowledge that can lead to greater success. For example:

  • An entrepreneur might study copywriting as a skill to help to make his or her marketing more effective.
  • A capital markets investor might study risk with the goal of become a risk-reducing expert.
  • A real estate investor might learn more about raising capital so that they aren’t reliant on financial institutions to fund their marketing.

I’ve shown you some high level ways that a scrappy capitalist might act fast or learn more but this is true at a much lower level as well. For example, an entrepreneur might learn about a long-tail keyword that he or she thinks is relevant to his or her audience. So the entrepreneur does some quick research to learn more about that keyword’s potential and then they create content around it. Then they do something similar the next day… and the next… and the next. In short order, the entrepreneur is visible in search engines for several keywords!

Stay tuned. I’ll reveal the next rule of the scrappy capitalist soon.

What I’m working on this week (Apr. 23 – 28)

After barely blogging and tweeting for a week, I’m back to the land of the living. I’ve been writing a book for a client and, I confess, on the verge of burnout for the past couple of weeks. But I wrapped up the heavy-lifting on the book and I’m now back to reality. Whew!

Here are a few things I’m working on this week:

  • Keep working on the book I mentioned above. All the heavy lifting is done but there are still some edits to make, some content to add, and a final review of the book.
  • Ramping up a new business venture I started. All the pieces are in place, everything has been tested, and now I just need to flip the ‘on’ switch to get things going (and then monitor its initial progress).
  • Write a sales page for a friend’s ebook.
  • Write a sales page for a day trader.

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Neal Lawson of ‘The Guardian’ is wrong: Why we shouldn’t ban outdoor advertising

On Facebook, a friend of mine posted a link to an article in the UK’s The Guardian newspaper. The article was written by Neal Lawson and it’s entitled “Ban Outdoor Advertising“.

As someone who lives and breathes marketing and advertising, I think Lawson’s article is frustratingly naive (with all due respect to a fellow writer, of course!)

I’ve dashed off some thoughts below and I’d love to know what you think of the topic:


I think banning outdoor advertising is naive because it only removes display ads. Our world is still awash in store-front signs and brands. Lawson wouldn’t suggest that we take down all store signs or pull the brand badges off of our cars or our clothes. So he’s focusing in on just one tiny element of a much larger issue — will this one fix change everything? I doubt it.

In the 1st and 2nd paragraph of his article, Lawson describes some of the public places where outdoor advertising can be seen. Although he doesn’t describe why it’s in those places, he says it shouldn’t be there. But it’s not like the advertising has suddenly appeared there against someone’s will. Schools and hospitals (and other public institutions) need to defray increasingly higher expenses and they have a choice: Charge users more (per-use, in taxes, or through some other form of income — advertising). So if we take down advertising in these public places, there will be a financial impact on users. Admittedly, not every public advertisement is there to defray expenses. (Roadside billboards, for example, are profit centers for the billboard owners rather than to help lower costs of a public institution).

In the 3rd paragraph of his article, Lawson says that the purpose of advertising is to make us unhappy. I think that’s somewhat alarmist. It also feels like he’s suggesting that we wouldn’t have these social problems of anxiety, insecurity, and obesity if it weren’t for advertising. That’s not true. We would still have these social problems because we compare ourselves with other people. For example, long before we had billboards, people were doing dangerous things to beautify themselves. And how does advertising help to sow the seeds of mental illness?

In the 4th paragraph of his article, Lawson say: “The advertising industry exists to ensure it becomes culturally and emotionally impossible to refuse.” I find that phrase the most offensive and naive statement of his entire article. The advertising industry doesn’t exist for that purpose. Industries (in general) exist to earn a profit by filling needs (both good and bad, admittedly), and the advertising industry exists to connect those other industries with potential buyers.

In the 5th paragraph of his article, Lawson says that advertising would clear our minds “for ideas, plans, love or just to daydream.” I’m not sure what he thinks is happening in our minds. In spite of our minds being all cluttered up from public advertising through the ages, we still circumnavigated the globe, cured many diseases, and went to the moon. (Maybe he thinks we could have been to Mars if it wasn’t for that pesky billboard that I drive past on my way to the grocery store).

Throughout his article, Lawson tries to separate the motivations of advertising from its value (I hope I worded that in a way that makes sense). What I mean is: He seems to be suggesting that advertising is there because advertisers are profit-driven and looking for more ways to tear us away from our money; instead, he should be considering that advertising is there because it works. People are going to buy things and advertisers are filling a need.

In the 6th paragraph of his article, after vilifying advertisers in general, Lawson tries to show us how great one city is doing it by quoting what is essentially a branded advertisement: “Bristol: the city that said no to advertising”. Somewhat ironic, in my opinion. But maybe Lawson is okay with it as long as that slogan is never ever displayed in public.

In the 7th paragraph of his article, Lawson seems to separate citizenship and consumerism. But those shouldn’t be separate. (1) Citizenship is a type of consumerism — we buy our citizenship with our taxes and votes; (2) Consumerism is a type of citizenship — we invest in who we want to be; (3) Advertising isn’t inherently uncultural — yes, there are disruptive and even offensive ads but advertising in general is part of our social fabric. Lawson seems to suggest that our citizenship would be better when outdoor advertising vanishes. However, I think that our effectiveness as consumers doesn’t come from NOT seeing ads, but rather from choosing to buy or not to buy what we see. We vote with our wallets. Those ads would disappear if they didn’t work.

So, what do you think? Will our lives be better if we tear down the advertising in public spaces?


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