Brand Loyalty

The Danger of Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty is dead.

Now I’m sure that when you think about brand loyalty, you generally think it’s a good thing. The purpose of this post isn’t to dissuade you of that belief or to tell you that brand loyalty is bad, but to shed some light on the flip side of that coin.

While as a brand, we would want our customers/audience to become & stay loyal to our brand, but being a loyal customer doesn’t necessarily serve us well. To broaden the scope of this discussion, let me expand on what I mean by giving a more broad definition of brand loyalty using several examples..

Are You Loyal to Any of These?DS Brand Loyalty Image

  • Car Manufacturers
  • Clothing Brands
  • Tech Brands
  • Music or Book Genre
  • Sports Teams
  • Political Parties
  • Religious Organizations
  • Your State/Country
  • Family (even extended family)

Chances are that you’ve said yes to one or more of those examples; but before I cover the potential downsides of brand loyalty, let’s go over some of the benefits.

Benefits of the Consumer

As a consumer, there are a few benefits you get by being loyal to a particular brand. First, it can be quite helpful if you have trouble making decisions.

Think of your favorite (car, tech, or clothing) company coming out with their newest edition, and how your natural inclination might be that “it’s time for an upgrade”. You don’t have to research all of the alternatives, you know that your favorite company provides quality products that are in your price range and that suit your taste.

Another big benefit can be the “community” aspect of brand loyalty. Think of the connections you have with other people that pertain to the organizations (sports, political, religious, family, and local community) you’re involved with. You have these common interests that bring you together.

Well so far, everything looks good. Brand loyalty is good for both the brand and consumer, right?

Maybe, maybe not. There are obvious benefits with this loyalty, provided that they keep putting out a quality product at a good price, but that’s not the entire picture.

The Danger of Brand Loyalty

Brand Loyalty IconThere are a few dangers of blindly following something, be it a brand, organization, etc.

One big danger is that it can cause you to stop using critical thinking. Many bad decisions can be made when you don’t focus on the possible outcomes or consequences before taking action.

Something else to consider is that times change. Companies change. You change. Those brands that are on top today will likely fall by the wayside tomorrow and beyond.

Also, many times this brand loyalty has been handed down to us. The ‘social’ brands (like politics, religion, nationalism, and family) tend to be heavily influenced by our upbringing and surroundings.

Think of it this way: if you met some of your extended family or your current co-workers for the first time at a community picnic or other social gathering, would you give them the time of day based solely on their attitude, personality, mannerisms, etc.?

If the answer is “no”, then why would you elevate their status based on factors that you’ve had little or no control over (being born and/or hiring your co-workers).

That example above may seem a bit cold, but I’m trying to make a point. Doing activities you don’t like or spending time with people you can’t stand aren’t good ways to have an enjoyable life.

(And obviously friends, family, and co-workers fall into different social categories.)

You are an Individual

stand outI believe it’s vital that critical thinking is employed in every area of life.

Avoid the ‘herd mentality’ and do a personal audit. Make adjustments to the areas of your life that need it and choose what’s best for your personal situation – each and every time.

Avoid guilt! It’s OK to root for a sports team that actually wins, rather than rooting for the team that’s based in the same geographical location as you.

If your favorite car company starts cutting corners with their quality or puts out a design you don’t like, make the switch to another brand.

Now let’s bring it back to something a little closer to home for me..

Back to the blog

Personally, I follow several different blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels. As much as I enjoy consuming new content from these brands, they are only a few bad posts/episodes/videos away from my finding replacements.

[tweetthis remove_twitter_handles=”true”]There are too many great brands out there to keep following those that stop providing value on a consistent basis.[/tweetthis]

Knowing that your audience can walk away at any time will keep you on your toes. Consistent growth and improvement is how you stay in the game.

I hope this post has helped you find a different way of looking at things. Keep providing value to others, and make sure that others keep providing value to you.

Cheers,

Patrick

DS Freedom Unfree World Featured Image

How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World – Book Review

DS Freedom Unfree World Featured Image

This month, I thought I’d talk about a book that I initially read several years ago, and have recently revisited once again. It is one of the most empowering books I’ve ever read, and was written by a personal ‘hero’ of mine, Harry Browne.

Free Yourself

Unfree WorldIt is titled How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, and the subtitle accurately describes the contents: “A Handbook for Personal Liberty”.

Although Harry was involved in politics, this book isn’t political in nature; it touches more on the philosophy of liberty and specific actions you can take in your own life to increase your personal liberty.

The book starts by explaining a few (of the many) ways that you aren’t free. He talks about the ‘traps’ we often fall into that keep us from being free.

Are You Trapped?

For example, one of them is titled The Previous Investment Trap. This trap is what keeps people stuck in a bad career or relationship, simply because of the amount of time they have already invested into it.

There are over a dozen ‘traps’ in all, and they cover many different areas of life, such as: morality, identity, the emotional & intellectual traps, and so on. In Part 2 of the book, he explains some of the ways you can be free of these traps; in other words, how you can escape from the traps you’re already stuck in.

[tweetthis remove_twitter_handles=”true” remove_url=”true”]You don’t have to buy from anyone, work at any particular job, or participate in any given relationship. You can choose. [/tweetthis]

Starting From Zero

Part of the way you become free is using a technique called Zero-based Thinking. I originally heard about this technique from Brian Tracy, and it is basically where you reevaluate your past decisions and ask:

If I had not made this decision already, would I make it now, knowing what I do about the outcome?

If you could travel back in time to the moment you were about to begin dating your current partner, start your business, or buy your house, would you do it again knowing the outcome?

Answering “no” to any questions using zero-based thinking means that you’ll need to start re-designing your life. It may be tough, but it’s far less painful than living an un-fulfilling life.

Digital Nomad Start Image

(There’s an article that explains zero-based thinking in more detail here.)

The Impact

As with some of the other books I’ve reviewed, it’s hard to understate the positive impact this book has had in my life. It easily earns a spot in the top 3 books I’ve ever read, out of more than a thousand books.

The ability to become free, both in your mind and in your personal life, is achievable by following the suggestions contained inside. I’ve been able to carve out more freedom, autonomy, and peace that I ever thought possible by putting all of this into action.

That’s it for now. If you’d like to check out this book, you can find it on Amazon HERE, and I’ll end this post with the quote from Harry that I used in the main image:

[tweetthis]A great burden was lifted from my shoulders the day I realized that no one owes me anything.[/tweetthis]

Cheers!

Patrick

DS Renaissance Soul Featured Image

The Renaissance Soul – Book Review

DS Renaissance Soul Featured Image

For this post, I have something a little bit different than usual. I think it’s fitting to talk about a book that really aligns with my philosophy & temperament. The subtitle is Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One, and that about sums it up.

If you’ve read more than one of my posts, you’ve probably been exposed to a variety of topics & ideas, and that’s the way I’ve intended it.

This stands in stark contrast to the ‘niche’ mentality.

Niches are Boring

Basically, it can get boring talking about the same thing every time, and variety is a great way to learn & grow. A niche can trap you, make it harder for you to redefine yourself, and can even handicap you in other areas when you put too much of your focus in one place.

The Renaissance Soul

DS Renaissance Soul ImageWhat this book does, is introduce you to the idea that it is perfectly normal to resist having only a single field of interest. Think of Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo Da Vinci, and others who excelled in a variety of fields.

The book smashes the stereotype of the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. You can indeed be a master of many trades. The concept of the ‘career for life’ has been dying for decades now, and this book is your invitation to embrace this reality.

The author lays out a great framework for the different types of ‘renaissance souls’ to be able to blend their many interests into their work, free time, studies, and social circles.

My Experience

I have both a gift and a curse. The gift is that I can quickly become 80% (or more) proficient at whatever endeavor I set myself too, be it sports, business, language learning, and so on..

The curse, is that since I can get to 80% so quickly, the idea of putting in the necessary time to get from 80% to just 85% or 90% proficient is totally unappealing. Why would I spend one week getting to 80, and then 2 years to get to 90?

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#selfhelp #hustle”]Growth is the only evidence of life.[/tweetthis]

What this means

This means that I need to be involved in a field that is either:

  • rapidly changing
  • very broad in scope
  • very competitive

If 1 or more of these criteria are met, I’ll have enough space to breathe. This is the appeal of blogging, my income & investment strategies, and the digital nomad lifestyle.

Fork in Road Choices

What about you?

I’m sure you have at least a couple different interests, probably a lot more. The Renaissance Soul is about leaving the old model of ‘you work so that you can play’ into the new model of making your work seem like play.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t waste it by spending time on things that don’t excite you, help you grow, or enrich your life.

The Sampler Platter

She talks a lot about a ‘sampler platter’, which is the main metaphor for choosing up to 4 interests and integrating them into your life. It helps to make this conscious choice

The Impact

possibilities road signThe biggest impact this book had, was in helping me to focus on a few projects instead of many of them. Using the sampler platter technique, I’ve been making good progress on 4 projects, rather than meager progress in 8-10 projects.

If you like the idea of pursuing multiple paths at the same time, then be sure to check it out this book. It will help you integrate them into your life without becoming too scattered.

Here’s a link to the Kindle version on Amazon: The Renaissance Soul

That’s it for now. Next week I’ll be giving an in-depth look at a potential digital nomad destination, which happens to be the city I’ve been living in for the post 3 months.. Medellin, Colombia.

Cheers!

Patrick

DS 65 25 10 Featured Image

The 65-25-10 Formula

DS 65 25 10 Featured Image65-25-10 = Results-based Action Allocation

In this post, I’m going to share a strategy that has helped me become more productive, and keeps me motivated week after week to continue my work.

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 80/20 Principle (or Pareto Principle) before; the concept that 80% of your results are coming from just 20% of your actions. What I’m about to share is a formula that picks up where the 80/20 Principle leaves off.

The Birth of “65-25-10” asset allocation

Similar to many entrepreneurs, I’ve been a huge fan of 80/20 for years, and I also attribute much of my success to its use. It is quite rewarding to find that vital 20% and put more of your focus there.

As powerful as that concept is, there always seemed to be something missing.. While it shows you what you should be focusing on, it does leave something important out. Motivation.

Shifting the Focus to Results

As important as it is to work on the 20% of your business that is crucial to your success, I’ve found it equally important that you stay motivated to continue on.

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#goals” remove_twitter_handles=”true”]Results-based action allocation is about hitting milestones consistently. Think: relay race, NOT a marathon.[/tweetthis]

What good does it do you to focus on the 20%, if the results from that work will take months or years to be seen? Not much.

It was this realization that helped me begin to develop this formula. But what exactly needed to be allocated, and at what percentages?

65-25-10

After much trial and error, I’ve settled into a split of 65%, 25%, and 10%. This is how I divide my working hours. Check out this infographic for an overview, and I’ll explain it in detail below..

65 25 10 Formula Infographic
Click to Enlarge

65% – Results within 30 Days

I usually refer to this block of time as my short term focus. Spending nearly two-thirds of my time on the actions that will yield results within a month’s time seems to be the sweet spot.

This allows me to hit a few milestones each month, which really helps with maintaining focus & consistency with my work schedule.

25% – Results within 30-90 Days

This next block of time is the mid or medium term focus. This block is important for keeping a bit of focus on the future. (I’ve often fallen into the trap of putting too much of my focus on the future, and not enough on the present.)

This block helps keep you looking ahead, rather than just whatever happens to be right in front of you. It also helps build up the habit of delayed gratification.

10% – Results Expected in 90+ Days

While it is important to focus on the short and medium term time frames, it is also good to look a bit further out. This 10% is for time frames that range from 90 Days to 1 Year.

This smaller piece gives enough focus on the longer term without sacrificing the here and now. This can also be seen as your ‘speculative’ time block.

Things often change drastically in a year’s time, so putting too much focus on an objective too far out there can be detrimental. This is especially true if the situation changes before you get there.

How They Work Together

rocks balancingWhat I’ve experienced since allocating my time this way has been nothing short of life-altering. In the past, I would jump around from a mostly short-term focus to a mostly long-term focus, and everything in between. This led to inconsistencies in when I would achieve results and hit milestones.

A short-term focus meant that I was achieving lots of results, but they weren’t actually moving me forward very much. A long-term focus meant that I was ultimately moving forward, but not able to stay motivated long enough to reach my objectives.

It’s easy to stay focused & motivated when you have something to show for your efforts; small wins & milestones being hit week after week, month after month.

Implementing the 65-25-10 formula has brought my life back into balance.

I’ve also found several other areas of my life where this ‘action allocation’ model can be used.

Applications beyond Results-based Action Allocation

In the same way that the 80/20 Principle can be applied to different areas of you life and work, The 65-25-10 Formula has multiple applications.

Income Sources

coins stackedThere has been a lot of value received from applying this formula to my different income sources. Currently, 65% of my focus is on Active Income, 25% is on Passive Income, and 10% is focused on what I call “Experimental Income”.

The Active Income is pretty straight-forward. Anything that I need to do “on-demand” is active income. This could be any freelance work, or any other work that needs my direct input & involvement.

For Passive Income, the focus is on anything that can be created once, and sold more than once with little involvement after its creation. This is mostly Kindle books & email courses at the moment.

The Experimental category is for my more speculative ventures. Maybe I’ll end up getting paid for my efforts, and maybe not. It also usually has a much longer time horizon for receiving any benefits. Since the likelihood of a payoff is slim, it’s vital I limit this slice to 10%.

Investment Portfolio

Most people probably think of investing when they hear “allocation”. The categories here are as follows:

1. Investing for Growth

The majority of my investing is for growth. For me, these are ‘hand’s on’ investments that I have direct control over, and have near complete influence on the outcome. Mainly buying low, adding value, and then selling high; all done with a short-term turn around.

2. Investing for Safety

My second largest category is the ‘safer’ investments. These are slightly more passive, without as much of a ‘hand’s on’ approach. The main focus here is guaranteed returns, backed by hard assets.

3. Speculation

Speculation is simply that, speculation. These are long shots – high risk & high reward. I expect to fail 9 out of 10 times, with that 10th time covering the losses of the other 9, while still bringing in a nice return. These investments are complex & creative, and are full of excitement.

growing-money-over-time-jars

Individual Projects

Another area I’ve been testing this formula on is for individual projects. Not all projects move in a strictly linear manner, so for those that don’t, it’s a good formula to experiment with it.

For me, the 65% portion is typically the part of the project that takes the most time, or is the most straightforward. The 25% is for the parts that have waiting time, or have some back & forth between with a 3rd party. They are more deadline driven. Lastly, the 10% section is usually the finalizing of the project & tying all the loose ends up.

It’s different for each individual project, but it’s been helpful looking in projects this way..

Work, Growth, and RecreationLiesure on Boat

It’s also a good idea to have balance in life; work, growth, and recreation are all important, and life can begin to lose meaning if time isn’t being spent in one or more of these categories.

For most people, their work takes up the biggest portion of their time. I’ve been fortunate to have found a way to make a good living without sacrificing personal growth & recreation, but it’s still been important for me to spend some time in each category.

I currently spend more time with Growth than Recreation, but it could just as easily be the other way around. If you find yourself frustrated, depressed, or feeling a little ‘off’, it’s a good sign that Work has edged out at least one of the other two categories.

This Formula is Just a Guide

I’m still tweaking this formula the more I put it into practice, but just think of it as a guide. The main theme here is that almost everything we do can be broken down into smaller parts, and those parts can be sorted. By being aware of this, we can plan our actions and execute them better, leading to more effective results.

Putting it into Practice

I encourage you to take a look at the way you spend your waking hours. What areas do you find yourself excelling at? Which ones need work?

Pick an area that could use some improvement, and then look at the way you’re currently allocating your actions. Often, a small shift can lead to a huge improvement over time.

That’s it for now, see you next week.

Cheers

Patrick

2016 Goals Post

New goals for 2016? Nope.

2016 Goals Post

As the new year begins to get underway, I thought it might be fitting to write the ‘customary New Year’s post’. While in one sense, I don’t like jumping on the bandwagon by writing about goals & resolutions, in another sense, it’s nice to harness some of the collective energy out there to start building (or maintaining) your momentum.

This is also the time that you typically see a swarm of Income Reports or Goals & Motivation for the New Year posted on blogs of all types, and I didn’t want to disappoint. But since this blog has only just begun, I don’t have much to report on those fronts.

Instead, I want to focus on the mechanics of how I set and achieve my goals. First, let me clear the air..

I Don’t Believe in New Year’s Resolutions

As I hinted at in the title, I strongly dislike the concept that we should begin moving toward new objectives on January 1st. It should be an ongoing process.

In the same way you usually don’t feel older/wiser on your birthday, but that new insights and instances of personal growth are felt at random intervals based on your experiences & revelations within certain situations.

Why I still make “New Year’s Resolutions” notepad and coffee

Not to contradict everything I’ve just stated, but I do make some plans & set new goals around the new year. It’s one of those rare times that you can tell those around you about your goals, and have them be encouraging & supportive.

Also, since I regularly set goals and evaluate my progress, I’ll use just about any excuse to pause and re-evaluate my situation.

What’s WAY better than resolutions?

In my opinion, resolutions are typically made in the “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” fashion. In reality, the majority of them aren’t kept through the month of January, let alone the entire year.

To make things worse, I often hear people mention new goals in October & November, but say that they’ll wait until January to get started on them.

So What’s My System? set and reach goals

I’m currently using a system that is ongoing, and doesn’t rely on a single date on the calendar to start & stop. It is a combination of a long-term plan (updated annually), coupled with shorter sprints, which are then broken down even further into daily actions.

Long-Term (5-years)

This might seem a bit complicated, but it’s really quite simple once you get into it. It starts with a 1,3, & 5 year plan. This covers different areas of your life – Income, Lifestyle, Accomplishments, etc.

Something important to remember:

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#goals” remove_twitter_handles=”true”]People often overestimate what they can accomplish in 1 year & underestimate what they can achieve in 5 years.[/tweetthis]

It isn’t too in depth. Just a sentence or two for each area of life, and 1-2 specific accomplishments I’d like to see in those areas.

Short-Term (90-days)

So once you have this big bird’s eye view of your ideal 1/3/5 year vision, you can break it down into smaller, actionable tasks. This is the part where we break it down into 90 day sprints.

This is a technique I learned from Jack Canfield’s Success Principles (Principle #8: Chunk It Down).

Now it’s time for a 90-day sheet where I list the smaller objectives & benchmarks that will help me accomplish the long term goals. These are broken down into: Active & Passive Income, Personal Development, Leisure, and Life Events/Milestones.

Again, this is just a brief outline. 2-3 objectives in each area is sufficient.

Weeklycomputer and journal

So now that our lofty 5-year goals have been broken down into what we intend to accomplish in the next 90 days, we can begin to break those down into weekly objectives.

I’ve found that having 3 important objectives of the week is more than enough to accomplish most/all of your goals. All it takes is 15 minutes before each week starts.

Once this has been done, you can get to work on your daily action plans.

Daily

Now it’s time to break them down even further. Each evening before I go to sleep, I choose the 3 tasks for the next day that will best move me forward. These tasks move me towards my weekly objectives, which in turn move me towards the 90 day and beyond time frames.

[tweetthis remove_url=”true”]A successful life is created 1 day at a time. Make each day a success, and you can’t help but create a successful life.[/tweetthis]

I realize that this system may seem a bit complex and time consuming, but it’s rather easy to implement. Here’s about how long I spend at each step:

  • 1/3/5 Year Planning – about an hour
  • 90-day sprints – another hour
  • Weekly – 15 minutes to plan it out, and another 15 minutes midweek to check on my progress
  • Daily – usually only 5 minutes

If that seems like a bit much, consider this: If you won’t take a few hours to plan for success, you won’t put it the time & focus needed to be successful. Period.

What Now?The 65 25 10 Formula

With all of this planning & goal setting, I’m sure you’re wondering how I these plans into action. I use something called The 65-25-10 Formula. In two weeks, I’ll be dedicating an entire post to that topic.

Until then, set some goals, and I’ll see you in the next post.

Peace,

Patrick