Caine’s Arcade

I aspire to be half the entrepreneur that Caine already is.  Watch this video to see why.

Notice his focus on his efforts, not on the results.  I was especially taken aback by his instant response when his dad asked if they could go home early since there were no customers today.  His instant “No”, and after pressed further, he stuck to his guns.  “No can do.”

Regardless of the results, his efforts are what matter.  So if today is a little slow, and you start to get the feeling to stop early.  Just remember it could be the day that hundreds of people show up for you.

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Studies in Psychology

Human psychology is incredibly interesting and useful.  I love to read studies that expose answers to why we do what we do.  They are often entertaining and enjoyable to read.

But it goes deeper than just enjoyment.  I have two big reasons why I find this education helpful:

1. Learning why other people do what they do often leads to insights to why I do what I do.

2. Learning why people do what they do helps me become a more effective marketer.

Other People are Just Like Me

My first instinct when I read a psychological study is to explain how I am NOT like that focus group.  The findings usually sound something like this: “95% of those surveyed responded like XYZ, and that makes them no more intelligent than a single-cell amoeba.”

So naturally, I need to separate myself from that group of people.  I justify how I am not like that.  I quickly scan my memory for situations when I behaved like the 5%, and I convince myself that I always act that way.

At first glance, I’m like the 5% more often than not.  But even that can be exposed with a bit of psychology (Illusory Superiority) where 93% of US drivers rated themselves as “better than average”.  Simple statistics will tell us that only 50% can be better than average.  Right?

So.  Justifying how I am NOT like the majority is about as pointless as a broken pencil.

There’s a more productive use of my brain.  I much prefer to recognize the reality that I have these same tendencies, dig deeper into my identity, and find out why I do what I do.  Understanding myself better than I did yesterday is growth.  It leads to constant improvement, and further helps to encourage an upward spiral.  Here’s my order of three priorities in my upward spiral.  Note the first step:

Know Yourself → Understand Others → Master Your Purpose

People Buy the Same Way

Of course this isn’t absolute.  Different people have different reasons to buy.  But there are a set of common rules that drive people to buy what they buy, where they buy, and how they buy.  In fact, purchases are typically emotional, backed by logic.  That even stands true for me – a guy who, on occasion, has been mistaken for Mr. Spock because of my heavy lean toward the rational.

Back to the Psychology, this concept is covered at length in the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini.  If you haven’t read it, then I recommend demand you read it immediately.  It’s probably the best marketing psychology book written.  Definitely the best I’ve read.

So the point is this – learning psychology is hand in hand with marketing.  If you know why people think how they think, then you know why they buy what they buy.  It’s like getting the decoder ring in the cereal box.  Once you have it, you can read the secret messages.  And knowing that code means you can write your own code so they buy your products.  …big caveat on the way…

Use these powers for good, not evil

The Information Age will continue to drive us toward a point where bad products don’t sell, no matter how well they are marketed.  Got that?  The times for developing an average product with a tricky sales message are over.  Well, maybe not over, but they don’t have much life left.  Use this education to sell only the best products possible.  If you aren’t giving more value away, then tweak, upgrade, or overhaul your product until you are.  Then use the marketing advice to reach the customers who desperately need your help.

If you are convinced that developing a cheap product and tricking people to buy it is the way to go, then enjoy your temporary, mediocre success.  You’re about to be replaced by better, faster, stronger, cheaper, more helpful businesses.


PS, this was meant to be an introduction.  I guess I felt strongly enough to make it its own Bobservation.  Anyway, the point was this – I’m starting a series of blog posts about psychology studies.  And how they influence me, as well as how they are used in business.  I hope you enjoy!!

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Better is Better than Good

Do you remember awards from childhood?  In almost any activity, sport, or camp, I distinctly remember a set of awards being given out at the end.

Highest Scorer, Best Defense, Most Assists, etc.

Then there was the dreaded one: Most Improved

Even at six years old, we all knew what that meant.  “We were embarrassed for you when you first got here… and now… not as much.  Congratulations.”

Not quite the same prestige as Highest Scorer.  We wanted to be good.  That’s all we wanted.  Who cares about improving?

But as we grow older, that thinking is not really beneficial.  Here’s why:

Being good is comfortable.  And comfort leads to complacent.  If you aim for good, you’re aiming for a comfortable state… one that’s hard to grow from.  We’re mostly driven to either avoid pain or pursue pleasure.  And comfort is neither of those two.  It’s the barren wasteland of motivation.  Comfort is the black hole of achievement.

Give us pain, and we will work like crazy to emerge from it.  Show us something worth striving for, and we will work harder, longer, and faster to achieve it.  Make us comfortable, and we will wither.

In other words, being good today brings the danger of being good permanently.  Better leads to constant improvement.  Better bypasses good on the way to incredible, amazing, and awesome.

Nothing that changes the world is ever just “good”.  No cause worth joining is because it’s “good”.  Wireless electricity won’t be created by a series of good inventions.  Cancer won’t be cured by good thinking.  And this blog won’t grow by a bunch of good posts.

No, I’m going to start with embarrassing, and aim for better.  Tomorrow, it will be not as embarrassing.  And hopefully sometime in the future, it will be great!

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My Daily List

I’ve been working from a daily list for the better part of 2012.  At night, I list out my goals for the next day.  Then, starting when I wake up, I follow that list until I’m done or exhausted.

Sometimes I’m both.  :-)

Lately I’ve been having trouble finding the motivation or focus to follow my list of 20-30 items.

So I set a goal of writing no more than 10 list items.  It’s only my core focuses that will make it onto that list.  Gone are the “read email” and “laundry” items.

On top of my narrowed focus, I’m also dedicating my day to just one item.  In other words, if I can only accomplish one thing today, what should it be?

I’m not claiming this is the way to go, and asking that you follow.  Just an experiment.

If it works, however, I may jump back up on my soapbox.  :-)



PS, here’s today’s list (at least I can say #3 is complete…)

1.  Read Bible (Days 137-139)
2.  NoXplode / SCD Bfast
3.  Bobservation Post
4.  Workout / Run
5.  CharlotteFlat (MLS Info Sheet)
6.  SCD Lunch
7.  Read Bible (Days 140-142)
8.  Audiobook (Blink)
9.  CharlotteFlat (MLS Info Sheet)
10. Work on Guru / eLance Profiles

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Just One More

I wrote 80% of this post two weeks ago, and never finished it.  This morning’s blog post by Seth Godin motivated me to finish it.  Here you go:

Nicole got a 79 on the exam.  One more right would have been a B.  Although she was content with the grade, knowing that she was so close to the B left a slightly bitter taste in her mouth.

This reminded me of a dynamic we’re very familiar with.  It’s the Just One More dynamic.

I’m happy with my job, but if I could just get one more promotion, I’d be where I really want to be.

My family is comfortable, and we have what we want, but it would be really nice to get one more raise and put us over the top.

Or how about these…

I need to get that new TV.  Then I’d really have the movie setup I’m looking for.

That handbag is slightly nicer than the ones that I have.

My car is OK.  But I’d look awesome driving that new model.

At its best, Just One More motivates us to stretch beyond our comfort zone.  To reach the next level.

At its worst, it’s akin to a heroin addiction.

It’s a moving target that we never really reach.  If it weren’t for this dynamic, anyone making $50,000 or more would have no debts, live virtually stress-free, and find a level of happiness that 99% of our peers do not find.

Practice detaching yourself from Just One More.

It’s not something to eliminate overnight.  One step at a time, celebrate what you currently own.  Enjoy it to it’s current capacity.  Sure, you may *only* have a 42″ plasma… and you want the 50″.  Put that in perspective.  Remember when the largest TV on the block was a 27″ tube TV?  Compare your possessions to the past and ignore the future, and enjoying them will be much easier.

Also, try lowering your bar.  I’m currently driving my dream car.  And it cost me $9,600.  I enjoy driving it every time I get in the driver’s seat, and I didn’t have to add the stress of debt when I bought it.  Who says your dream car needs to cost more than the average American’s home?

Buy things because you’re happy with them.  Not because you’re impressive with them.

And I know I don’t have to caveat with “money doesn’t buy happiness”, right??  My readers are smarter than that.  :-)



PS – Seth Godin is an incredible writer.  Now that you’ve had the appetizer on this topic, get the main course here.

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Useless Information

We are well into the Information Age.  It’s no longer a new idea or concept that needs to be defined.  If you disagree, click here.

So we have more information at our immediate disposal.

Take email for example.  More people have email.  We have instant access to email through our phones and almost omnipresent wifi availability.  And it’s easier to send a message.

That translates to an incredible increase in email volume from ten years ago to today.  Ten years ago, I would check my email twice daily to read the five to ten personal emails that came my way.  Which, by the way, was probably more than average.  Today, I try to limit myself to only checking my email a few times a day.  Sometimes I succeed in limiting it to twice.  Other times I check it ten times.  Regardless, I’m at about 100 emails daily.  The problem is not the number of emails.  The problem is that they are almost all relevant in some way.

The Information Efficiency Age is a sub-header of the Information Age.  Just a term I made up to describe the importance in keeping messages short and concise.  300 page reference books will give way to 20 page guides.  120-minute documentaries will be surpassed by 3-minute stories on the main point.  Or 20-minute videos like those at Ted.

So make your points quickly, clearly, and then get out.  No more presentations like this one.

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Interesting Offer

I received an e-mail from last night.  Here’s the gist of their email.

I agree to write daily for the next year, and cross-sell his products on

In return, they give me a check for $50,000, plus 40% commission on all products sold on my site.  I will be a featured blog partner on, which they estimate will drive 1,000 to 2,000 unique visitors… daily.

I like the idea, but it sort of feels like I’m giving up some freedom to do what I want to do.

What do you think – should I take it?  Would you?  Comment below!

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My Nicaragua Trip in Pictures

Here it is.


(edit – YouTube blocked my video.  Check it out on Vimeo…)


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Hands Off the Wheel

I am a big fan of technology.

However, I do not think that technology is good.  Alternately, I do not think it is bad, either.

Technology is neutral.  It’s a tool.  Just like a knife.  You can use the knife to stab someone and steal their money.  Or you can use the same knife to cut food for the homeless.  The choice is yours.

On a similar note, technology can either allow us to be more comfortable, with the goal of doing less.  Or it can free us to do more, with the goal of improving our circumstance, our community, and our world.

Again – the choice is yours.  See what Google is doing:

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I’m not sure of the exact conversion between celsius and fahrenheit. That’s a lie. F = 1.8 * C + 32. But my point is that when I see a temperature shown in celsius, I’m just not sure how it will feel.

I do know that as my friend Mike and I sipped our mango juices and munched on vigarron (the specialty cuisine of Grenada, Nicaragua), the temperature was 22 degrees C. Converted to fahrenheit, that is somewhere between amazing and perfect degrees.

We were in the middle of a small town, devoid of some modern conveniences. Sure, it’s a tourist area, and thus has plenty of electricity, running water, and coffee places that make those coffees with the shapes in the foam. And some of those coffee shops have wireless internet access too.

But there was something different, something missing. And I don’t mean McDonald’s. Although there was nothing close to a reocgnizable U.S. franchise since we left Managua, the capital city.

The missing element was more about attitude than infrastructure. In fact, whatever was lacking in convenience was more than made up by what I would describe as happy-go-simple.

Simplicity has it’s benefits. Fewer choices lead to less uncertainty. Less stress. And less noise.

We approached one of the food kiosks in the corner of the parque centrale (Central Park for those that speak as little Spanish as I do). Looking at the walls of the building, we weren’t able to locate the food options. No menus, no “specials” board. Mike, in his perfect Spanish, requested a menu from the girl behind the desk. I didn’t need to understand her words in order to understand the message. They serve vigarron. Just vigarron. The only choice we needed to make was – how many vigarron.

So we ordered “dos”, and sat down.  Something felt off.  Where to next?  What else can we do while we eat?  Check email or text?  Make a call or check voicemail?  No, there’s no cell service for this American.

Then what?  And then it hit me – there’s nothing to do.  Nothing but enjoy the moment.  Take it all in and experience the present.  The people.  The scents.  The sounds of vendors selling, kids playing, and birds chirping in Spanish.  Que?

Mike and I must have realized this around the same time, as I asked him if he was itching to leave.  His reply (with all the wisdom in the world):

I’m in no hurry to be in a hurry.

It could almost be mistaken for a Franklin Roosevelt quote.  “The only thing we need to hurry for… is hurry itself.”

Mike said it perfectly.  The only thing we’d be rushing to do is just another thing we’d need to rush for.  We might have found ourselves in a cycle of anxiousness.

It’s a great reminder to stop your progression of hurry.  Take a deep breath, experience the moment, and appreciate everything you can sense.





PS – Mike Crespo is a good friend, and great copywriter.  If your business needs copywriting services, I urge you to check out his website.  Or if you want to learn about copywriting, he also offers a free downloadable report: “10 Proven Ways to Increase Your Click Through Rate by 267% – A B2B Lead Converting Machine“.  Get him on retainer now; before he’s too busy to take on clients any lower than $1,000 per hour.

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