Business Growth #333 – This week: Targeting, Small steps, SRA

Sales and marketing Newsletter

Quick notes to help you grow your business in less time with less effort. . . sometime next week.

In this issue:

– Techniques for FIT
– Being Human
– Random Stuff

Techniques for FIT

  • Prospect to the right audience. Use niches for better results. Looking in the back of the NY Review of Books I see seven personal ads. That’s a specific, narrow audience.
  • If you see an investment pullback in an industry niche, don’t confuse the removal of investment with invalidating the concept. Money isn’t always smart.
  • Some of your employees work for you because they identify with your vision and culture. Some stay simply because they like their co-workers. One isn’t better than the other, they just need different things from you.
  • Your energy levels are not steady, they ebb and flow. Same with your people. Take that into account when it comes to time management. Like Friday afternoons. Notoriously low energy. Perfect for activities like planning next week.

Being Human – Small steps

“Life asks us to make measurable progress in reasonable time. That’s why they make those fourth grade chairs so small – so you won’t fit in them at age twenty-five!” – Jim Rohn

small desk fourth grade.png

Everyone is busy.

It’s not unusual for people I work with to have five or six competing priorities, all with immediate deadlines. Once you get through one group, another appears. It can be draining.

To keep momentum going, finish something. Focus on one element of one priority, and finish it. Think about a fire hose, it has a nozzle that can spread a fine mist over a large area. The same nozzle can also be concentrated into a single stream of water powerful enough to blow holes in walls. Be that concentrated stream of water on one priority.

Research at Harvard backs me up. From The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work:

“People’s inner work lives seemed to lift or drag depending on whether or not their projects moved forward, even by small increments. Small wins often had a surprisingly strong positive effect, and small losses a surprisingly strong negative one.”

Next week, take your list, pick a project, break it into pieces, and finish a small bit. You’ll get a little jolt of energy for the next thing and momentum will build.

Good stuff.

Random stuff


“There’s no friends like the old friends.” – James Joyce, Dubliners


This week I reconnected with an old friend. We met in junior high and spent a lot of time together through high school and college. My second child and his first were roughly the same age. I have pictures in his parent’s backyard with two new baby boys flopping about.

Then 25 years passed.

Funerals bring people together. His mother passed away last week, and it led to phone calls and us reconnecting. Hearing his voice brought me back to eight grade. My friend was an introvert, but after a few years in our little grade school came out of his shell. He is funny and quirky and everyone loves “Bon.”

In one of our classrooms we had a reading comprehension tool called SRA. You read a story and answer questions. They start out relatively simple and get more complex as you move through the box. The first colors you move through are like “red” “green” “blue” and if you’re advanced you move into more obscure colors like “rose” or “gold.” Your progress is noted on a chart posted on the wall. It had no effect on grades, but it was public information.

By eight grade we were all tired of SRAs and my little friend group took to grabbing the answer key at the same time we took our assigned SRA booklet. This meant we flew through the colors and finished the box before the last month of school. No more SRA.

“Bon” didn’t know we did this. Every day he saw our progress on the chart and thought he needed to work harder. He started sneaking SRAs home. In the last week of school grew desperate enough to invent bathroom breaks and grab more SRAs. He is a polite, focused kid. During one of these clandestine SRA missions his teacher, the feared Mrs. Ertle, said “Paul, just what do you think you’re doing?”

In early seventh grade he would have sat down. We were all deathly afraid of Mrs. Ertle’s temper. In late eighth grade he snapped back at her, “Don’t worry about it!”

It is the stuff of legend. Throughout high school we told and retell the “don’t worry about it” story like those prisoners swapping Andy Dufresne stories in the Shawshank.

Poor Bon didn’t feel the same way. The incident popped him right back into his shell. But not before stealing one of those dreaded SRA cards post-grad. He burned it in effigy, inadvertently starting a tree on fire which led to his parent’s garage catching fire.

Another story, another time.

It is good to talk to him again.


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