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Leverage

The goal of the Leverage Podcast is simple: to learn from the best and discover how we can all live a better life, build a more fruitful business, and be more efficient. Leverage’s Founder and CEO, Nick Sonnenberg, is the host of the Leverage Podcast. With a background in data science, high-frequency algorithmic trading, and business efficiency consulting, Nick has an innovative mind and is obsessed with learning from the people around him. Join him each week as he interviews fellow entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and leading experts to discuss everything from efficiency hacks to new technologies to life as an entrepreneur.
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Now displaying: 2018
Dec 3, 2018

Leverage Podcast featuring Susan Drumm, Founder and CEO at Meritage Leadership.

 

Susan and her team at Meritage Leadership conduct leadership consulting, coaching, facilitation, strategy and assessment for organizations. One of the tools Susan uses in her leadership development and organization assessments is the Enneagram Type Indicator - a descriptive and intensive personality test based on motivation.

 

There are 9 different Enneagram types, and within each type there are type-subsets for certain strengths. Each type has its own gifts and challenge areas. Throughout your life, you growth within your type and by learning your Enneagram type it can help point you in the direction of growth.

 

Listen in as Susan goes over Nick’s Enneagram results (Type 8 - The Challenger), interpreting some of his behaviors with the motivations linked with this type, and how you can interpret your own results, those of your team and family to build better relationships and team cooperation.

 

Learn more about the Enneagram Type Indicator here: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

 

Find out more info about Susan Drumm and Meritage Leadership programs:

 

Website: meritageleadership.com/  

Twitter: @drummleadership

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-drumm-bb09732

 

Nov 12, 2018

Part 2 of 2

 

Watch Part 1 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9YaZWNEvAM&t=5s


Visit podcast.getleverage.com to download the main takeaways from this incredible insight to Sean Stephenson’s genius.

Leverage podcast featuring Dr. Sean Stephenson, therapist, self-help author, and motivational speaker.


Faced with numerous and deadly health challenges, Sean has proved that he is a fighter. Sean was predicted not to survive at birth because of a rare bone disorder that stunted his growth and caused his bones to be extremely fragile (fracturing over 200 times by the age of 18)

Listen in on this two part episode with Sean as he talks about becoming a student of his pain and fighting through the challenges he has faced to take a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world.

An inspiring story that you don’t want to miss.

Listen in above or on iTunes at: https://goo.gl/QTwrgo

And be sure to watch part 1 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9YaZWNEvAM&t=5s

Nov 12, 2018

Part 2 of 2

 

Watch Part 1 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9YaZWNEvAM&t=5s


Visit podcast.getleverage.com to download the main takeaways from this incredible insight to Sean Stephenson’s genius.

Leverage podcast featuring Dr. Sean Stephenson, therapist, self-help author, and motivational speaker.


Faced with numerous and deadly health challenges, Sean has proved that he is a fighter. Sean was predicted not to survive at birth because of a rare bone disorder that stunted his growth and caused his bones to be extremely fragile (fracturing over 200 times by the age of 18)

Listen in on this two part episode with Sean as he talks about becoming a student of his pain and fighting through the challenges he has faced to take a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world.

An inspiring story that you don’t want to miss.

Listen in above or on iTunes at: https://goo.gl/QTwrgo

And be sure to watch part 1 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9YaZWNEvAM&t=5s

Nov 12, 2018

Part 2 of 2

 

Watch Part 1 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9YaZWNEvAM&t=5s


Visit podcast.getleverage.com to download the main takeaways from this incredible insight to Sean Stephenson’s genius.

Leverage podcast featuring Dr. Sean Stephenson, therapist, self-help author, and motivational speaker.


Faced with numerous and deadly health challenges, Sean has proved that he is a fighter. Sean was predicted not to survive at birth because of a rare bone disorder that stunted his growth and caused his bones to be extremely fragile (fracturing over 200 times by the age of 18)

Listen in on this two part episode with Sean as he talks about becoming a student of his pain and fighting through the challenges he has faced to take a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world.

An inspiring story that you don’t want to miss.

Listen in above or on iTunes at: https://goo.gl/QTwrgo

And be sure to watch part 1 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9YaZWNEvAM&t=5s

Nov 5, 2018

Part 1 of 2.

 

Leverage podcast featuring Dr. Sean Stephenson,  therapist, self-help author and motivational speaker.

 

Faced with numerous and deadly health challenges, Sean has proved that he is a fighter. Sean was predicted not to survive at birth because of a rare bone disorder that stunted his growth and caused his bones to be extremely fragile (fracturing over 200 times by the age of 18).

 

Listen in on this two part episode with Sean as he talks about becoming a student of his pain and fighting through the challenges he has faced to take a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world.

 

An inspiring story that you don’t want to miss.

 

Listen in above or on iTunes at: https://goo.gl/QTwrgo

 

And be sure to tune in next week for part 2.

Oct 29, 2018

Leverage podcast featuring Chris Prefontaine, founder of the Smart Real Estate Coach and Leverage member.

 

After the 2008 real estate market crash, Chris and his company reinvented the way they made deals and now coach and mentor people from all over the country to achieve the same success.

 

They started doing real estate on their own terms — literally. They started doing real estate deals on terms.

 

Chris works with (a) sellers who were unsuccessful in selling their homes, for whatever reason, and (b) sellers who have time and want the most out of their home. He offers them an alternative solution to sell their home under a specific set of rules. Without the need for brokerage fees, these sellers are motivated to get as much money as they can out of their home by working with Chris and his family.

Think of leasing a car — terms deals are very similar. They also don’t require cash, capital, credit, bank loans or risking personal finances… And the way Chris does them, there is very little risk.

In a terms deal, Chris’s company acts as a middleman between a seller and a pre-qualified rent-to-own buyer...

 

To learn more :

- listen in to the podcast episode

- read the blog article: https://goo.gl/pwn9rJ

- download our 1-page cheatsheet: podcast.getleverage.com


https://www.smartrealestatecoach.com/

Oct 22, 2018

Part 2 of 2

 

For part one, check out: https://youtu.be/E5XBULJkiD4

 

Leverage Podcast featuring Leverage member, serial entrepreneur and master salesman, Kevin Donahue.

 

In his chat with Leverage Co-founder, Nick Sonnenberg, Kevin shares some of his top secrets to success, including:

  • “Remembering the future” visualization tactics
  • The power of reverse gratitude
  • Finding your unique ability and using it in business
  • How to create a team geared for success

 

To download a cheat sheet with the main takeaways from this podcast episode, visit podcast.getleverage.com

 

To  learn more about Kevin’s current business ventures visit:

 

Oct 15, 2018

Part 1 of 2

Leverage Podcast featuring Leverage member, serial entrepreneur and master salesman, Kevin Donahue.

Kevin is a testament of a true entrepreneur having mastered a huge array of industries across the US. From a skincare brand to a brain trauma center, YouTube influencers, forensic investigative search engines, and the mental health space.

How? He knows his unique ability and has mastered it. 

"It's like someone who's a bass guitarist. It doesn't really matter the band they play in, they can play the bass guitar. I know what my skill set is, I know my unique ability, I know my entrepreneurial flow. So I'll partner with businesses, and I'll do what I'm best at, and I'll let them do what they're best at. I'm able to grow businesses across industries without ever having to know the real intricacies of the industry." - Kevin

In a nutshell, Kevin helps businesses go from selling Honda’s to Ferrari’s by creating the right conversation around of the product that makes a business stand out. It’s not manipulation, it’s just being accurate and telling the truth in a way that benefits your target audience.

“The language in sales is so important, it’s like magic.” 

 

Listen in as Kevin shares his fascinating entrepreneurial journey, insights to entrepreneurial success and how to find your unique ability.

Oct 8, 2018

Leverage Podcast featuring Tyler Koblasa, entrepreneur, technology leader and CloudApp CEO.

 

Tyler Koblasa has a history in evolving the digital landscape and optimizing online communication and workflows. Through his multiple startups and tech endeavors, Tyler found he was consistently faced with the challenge of adequately conveying a clear and concise message, digitally, to those he was working with. Whether he was developing a new product and needed to provide feedback or quickly explain something to a customer or client; the biggest underlying question was “How can we communicate faster?”


Fast forward to 2013 when Tyler met Max Schoening, founder of CloudApp. At the time, CloudApp was a basic screenshot capturing tool that saved content in the cloud. Then, the primary users of CloudApp were the crafters and builders of tomorrow such as the co-founders of Airbnb, CEO and founders of MailChimp, and Kevin Rose — all successful entrepreneurs faced with the same digital communication challenge. As a user himself, Tyler saw the massive potential of this two keystroke cloud app “claw” that was allowing users to communicate what was on their screen to someone else in a matter of seconds.

The rest is history, literally. As CEO of CloudApp since 2014, Tyler has skyrocketed the business and continues to evolve CloudApp’s functionality. CloudApp is now one of the web’s most popular video and image sharing platforms, even making the Top 50 Software Companies 2018.

So, What Is CloudApp?
If you haven’t heard of CloudApp before, download it now. Seriously.

CloudApp is an intelligent digital communication platform that enables users to quickly capture screenshots, video walkthroughs, webcam recordings, and GIFs in two simple keystrokes. The first key-stroke captures the content, instantly uploads it to a secure cloud and creates a short, shareable URL link. Step two, the second keystroke, is simply using the paste command to easily share the link created for your content with customers, clients, or your team. Enabling you to convey a message or visual content within seconds.

Avoiding miscommunication with CloudApp has become a game changer with the annotation feature. With one keystroke command, a user can take a screenshot and annotate the image to your heart’s desire to show the end-user precisely what they need to know with arrows, text, highlighting and more.

 

Listen in to learn how CloudApp can transform your workflow and optimize your business.



Read the full blog post on the episode: https://goo.gl/yxNcMq

 

Download the podcast cheat sheet with the CloudApp keystroke shortcuts at podcast.getleverage.com

 

Visit www.getcloudapp.com to download the basic version for FREE

Oct 1, 2018

Leverage Podcast featuring motivational speaker, poet, author and Leverage client Julianna Dawson. Interview by Brittney Martinson, Head of Client Success at Leverage.

 

Julianna Dawson had big dreams that she didn’t feel possible working full time and spending quality time with her family. She wanted to finish her books, have them published, promote herself as an author, and attend more self development events. She knew what she needed to do, but just didn’t have the time to get it all done.

 

Some of the challenges Julianna wanted solved when joining Leverage included:

- Event planning and management

- Editing video content

- Social media management

- Email management

- Writing video scripts

- Researching and booking flights and hotels

- Vacation planning

 

“For me it was life changing to realize it was possible to have the job, take care of the kids, have my dreams and actually have someone to help me work on that. Leverage made it really easy.”



“It was different than before when I hired a freelancer to work with me. They wouldn’t have the expertise in all these different areas – it was really great to have leverage and all the different people on your team be able to do all those different things.”



Listen in to learn more about Julianna’s experience with Leverage and the dreams she was able to accomplish by outsourcing. Including a special preview of one of her poems from Inspiring Words: Love’s Journey!

 

Want to hear more from Julianna?

Visit her website at: www.juliannadawson.com

 

Get the FREE audio-books through Audible by using the links below for the 30-day free trial:

Inspiring Words: Love's Journey https://goo.gl/4nAHJJ
Inspiring words: Finding Yourself https://goo.gl/vE6U6G

 

Sep 24, 2018

Leverage podcast featuring Peter Shankman, public relations master, best-selling author and host of the #1 ADHD Podcast Faster Than Normal.

 

Peter Shankman lives a faster than normal life and rocks it. He’s an uber-successful entrepreneur, public relations master, best-selling author, host of the #1 ADHD Podcast “Faster Than Normal,” and single-dad to his 5-year old daughter. Not to mention a licensed skydiver, marathon runner, Ironman participant and Peloton junkie. It’s not that he has more time on his hands, he’s learned how to leverage his ADHD and use it as a gift.

It all started in the mid-90’s when Peter was in an online chatroom and was encouraged to apply to a newsroom start-up. With minimal experience outside of a journalism degree, Peter helped build the largest digital online newsroom in the world — AOL — in just 3 years.

In the wake of the dot-com boom, with the priceless experience gained from AOL, Peter wanted to start a PR firm. The only problem was… he had no money. With the upcoming release of the movie “Titanic,” Peter had the idea to take his rent money and get 500 t-shirts made with the quote “It Sank. Get Over It.” and sell them in Times Square. He sold out in 6 hours.

Taking the t-shirts online, he cleared $100,000 in under two months. Enough money to start his PR firm.

Peter hasn’t slowed down since. To what does he attribute his success? In his mid-30’s Peter was diagnosed with ADHD, and learning how to “drive” his faster than normal brain has been a game-changer.

“When you’re driving a faster brain — just like when you’re driving a Lamborghini — you have to know how to drive it.”

 

Here are 5 productivity hacks that helped Peter leverage his best life:

- Discipline
- Systems and Processes
- Structured Days
- Wake-up Early,
- Workout

 

Listen in to learn more about Peter’s 5 personal productivity hacks, read the blog post (6 min read) https://blog.getleverage.com/faster-than-normal-peter-shankmans-five-productivity-hacks-efceb7bb32d

OR download the episode cheat sheet at podcast.getleverage.com

Sep 17, 2018

Leverage Podcast featuring Nick Sonnenberg, Co-founder and CEO, Tanya Fraser, Head of Tasks and Florence Bout, Head of Operations at Leverage.

Like any new business, Leverage was not immune to the challenges and adversities that most start-ups face.

As many of you may know, Leverage was founded in 2015 by Ari Meisel and Nick Sonnenberg. Leverage soon created a name for itself in the world of outsourcing as a premier service. With a team of 150+ virtual assistants, the company was growing at a rate of about 5–10% each month…

But things quickly changed in October of 2017, when Ari unexpectedly decided to leave the company. Nick had virtually no notice — a mere 5 minutes to prepare for what was about to happen.

The biggest initial challenge was dealing with the division of roles and responsibilities between the two founders. Ari was the face of Leverage, working closely with clients, managing the team and company marketing. Nick, on the other hand, was the driver behind operations and technology.

He had, historically, been completely behind-the-scenes. Many clients and team members didn’t even know who Nick was, and this was a big problem.

Very quickly, as Nick took over the daily operations of the company, he uncovered some core issues that had been largely swept under the rug. Ironically, Leverage — a so-called “productivity company” — was actually running extremely inefficiently. Premature scaling is a big issue for new start-ups, and Leverage had unfortunately fallen into this familiar trap, which masked the core, fundamental issues the company had.

This extreme event was almost a blessing in disguise for the company. It forced the internal Leverage team to ask themselves the question:

Who are we and what direction do we want to go?

Over the course of the next several months, the team completely re-evaluated and re-structured how the company operated, working towards fixing those core issues. It allowed Leverage to “grow-up” as a company and become stronger than ever.

Nick was keen to on restructuring Leverage to be a non-hierarchical, self-managing organization. He took bits and pieces from the books Traction by Gino Wickman, The 12-Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington, Tony Robbins’ RPM Method, and Scrum Methodology for software development.

Through this process, there were 5 key lessons learned for creating a more united and productive organization:

Creating a Company Vision
Clear Roles & Responsibilities
Process Documentation
Establishing Quarterly Goals
Implementing Structured Meetings

Listen in to dig deeper into these 5 keys lessons, or read the full blog post at: https://goo.gl/2FdppA

Sep 11, 2018

WEBSITE COPY IS IMPORTANT, YET OFTEN OVERLOOKED

When it comes to marketing content, website copy is often neglected. Yet, it’s a huge (and often missed) opportunity to craft the right message in order to reach the right audience. Well crafted content ultimately helps you attract your dream customers, boost conversions and improve your retention rates. In other words, website copy has powerful potential.

The problem is that time, budget and resources are typically spent on marketing emails, ads, landing pages or places where companies see a direct ROI.

Although you might not immediately see hard numbers from website copy, it is still a form of sales writing. It may be more subtle than direct sales, but it is where you’re selling your most important product — your business — and therefore the same types of sales strategies apply.

GUIDELINES FOR WEBSITE COPY

1. Me-focused vs. You-focused

“Me me me”

If a company writes in “me me me” style, the content is based around what the company does, how great it is, and how they are better than the competition. What’s missing in this style of copy is the relation and benefits to the user/customer. Companies should refrain from being focused on themselves and rather focus on what they can do for the potential customer.

“You you you”

The customer wants to know what’s in it for them. Writing in a way that answers and supports this question is “you you you” style.

Use your words to talk directly to your audience, by using the term “you” or elaborating on the many ways you help your clients. In this form, you’re showing how you can solve their problems.

2. Cut the Fluff

“Fluff” is vague, meaningless copy that says the exact same things you expect every other business to say, such as “we focus on making our customers happy” or “we are better than the competition!” These statements are usually said without any proof.

Instead of relying on generalities, be specific, offer benefits, and give proof to show your business is credible.

Proof can be in the form of testimonials, case studies, or a specific process (if your process or way of business is unique).

3. Call to Action (CTA)

Don’t leave the customer hanging by letting the conversation end at the bottom of your webpage. Do place a CTA on every page––whether it is your Home, Services, or even your About page––to guide the customer on a journey of what to do next.

The CTA can be different on each page to fit with the page content and to link to the desired outcome. Some pages may link to your blog while others link to your portfolio or a direct ‘buy’ page.

4. Know Your Background Info

Before you write, you need to know who you are writing for, what you want to say, and how you want to say it.

  • Define your target audience
  • Discover your writing “voice”
  • Identify your most enticing benefits (ex: what saves someone time or $)
  • Identify your unique ability, or what makes you truly stand out
  • Choose the relevant personal story (if you have one) to share with your audience. For instance, if you’re an entrepreneur and have a personal connection to the brand, sharing this story can help build a personal connection with your clients.

4 THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW TO IMPROVE YOUR WEBSITE COPY

  1. Change your me-focused copy to you-focused copy.
  2. Cut the fluff by making content specific, providing benefits, or offering proof.
  3. Add a Call To Action to every page.
  4. Read your website copy aloud and simplify as needed, anywhere it doesn’t read smoothly.

Want our FREE Power of Process productivity bundle? It might be the single most important insight you get this year.

Click here to receive your bundle.

 

Read the full blog post here: https://goo.gl/yvz7bU

Get the FREE Leverage Website Copy Guidelines Cheatsheet at podcast.getleverage.com

Sep 4, 2018

Leverage Podcast featuring Scott and Orlena Ballard, Leverage clients, partners at Confidence Coach and in life.

 

In this episode, Brittney Martinson, Head of Client Success at Leverage talks to Scott and Orlena Ballard about a unique task they’ve outsourced to Leverage:

“Need a VA to made a dinner reservation every Thursday Night at 7:15pm for my wife and me”

 

At Confidence Coach, Scott and Orlena coach their clients on how to have success in their business - but also in your most important relationships. Married for 37 years, dating for 40 — Scott and Orlena know that their marriage is their #1 priority in life and you need to put the work into it to make it last.

 

“You can have the greatest amount of success in a Business, but if you don’t have any personal relationships that are enriching, that are better, that are growing, that are deeper in love - what do you really have?” —Scott Ballard.

 

Any success principles learned in business can be directly related into relationships, and vice versa.  In business, you have to invest time and resources, have a plan and strategy - the same goes for a marriage. Business is driven by human relationship, so using relationship practices as well in business drives success. How you take care of your customers and how you take care of your spouse should be very similar.

 

“If we don’t have this [marriage], then we don’t have anything… We can do all the work, all the business, all of the success but If we aren’t having success in our relationship it all doesn’t really matter.” —Scott Ballard

 

To build a relationship - you need to invest and keep taking it to the next level. Scott and his wife are committed to Thursday Date Nights to continue to invest in their marriage and relationship. Scott used Leverage to get creative about their date nights and free up his brain-space to instead plan their conversations and ask questions during the dates which was most important part of that time together.  

 

What’s the Formula for the Perfect Date: Consistency + Curiosity + Caring

 

Consistency:

Block off the time your schedule, so life can’t schedule other things into the date nights. It’s has to become a priority, a non-negotiable.

 

Curiosity: Date with a Purpose

Each Date, Scott comes up with 1-3 questions to ask Orlena, and to have Orlena ask him. By leading the conversation this way, it becomes more real, honest and has more depth. The questions can be about their life, how to serve, love and be better in their relationship. There is a lot that Scott continues to learn, wasn’t aware of or has changed about his wife.  Learning something a new partner after 40 years is the same experience as a first date. “Wow this is an amazing person” and earn to learn more about them.

Here are some example questions provided by this power couple:

What is one thing can I do to better serve you in our relationship?

Tell me about an experience when you were a child when you experienced great joy?

What would make you feel more loved in this situation (whatever that situation is) - how do we lovingly work through this?

What are your expectations for our relationship in the next year,  how do you see us growing?

 

Caring:

Using this time to really listen to your spouse. During off all distractions, leave your phones and apple watches in the car. Dedicate this time to your spouse. The date is supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable, so the ambiance of the date is important. Dress-up! It doesn’t have to be wildly romantic, but strut your stuff!

“If you want to have a relationship to last for a lifetime it’s about commitment, not emotions, feeling or love. It’s about saying you’re committed to this person for a lifetime, and from there the real joy and love can grow. Committed and you’re going to do the work no matter what.” — Scott Ballard

How can you expect a marriage to be great in 10 years if you don’t put in the work?

Do the work in a relationship. It’s the most important relationship in your life, and yet we typically don’t do the work. It’s just like a business, you have to invest time and resources, have a plan and strategy. In this day of age, it’s not talked about, and its not thought about. Which is a shame because there is so much joy and so much good that will come out of it if you are intentional about your commitment to your relationship. Don’t just settle for being roommates.

Scott and Orlena challenge you to take a risk for the one you love today. Do something so out of the box that it startles them back into the relationship. Ask yourself what you can do today, radically, to love the person you’re with. And see what happens!

 

You can learn more about Scott and Orlena Ballard at

https://www.confidencecoach.org/

Take advantage of their FREE 30 min consultation to enhance your relationship (or business!)

Aug 27, 2018

DINA’S JOURNEY

Before turning to meditation, Dina lived in the opposite world — the whirlwind of founding a tech company which raised $35mm in venture capital money and scaled to offices internationally. The start-up was called blip.tv, a platform for original shows, somewhat similar to an early version of YouTube.

Her life quickly became meetings and conferences, hiring and firing and tough decisions about strategy and scaling and managing a P&L. She figured out the “job” part of her job. What she couldn’t figure out was how to be herself in that role…how to stay true to herself, as a feminine founder, in such a male-dominated company and industry.

Dina thought she had to act “like a guy” to be as successful as the male entrepreneurs she was meeting at tech events, people like Peter Thiel and Larry and Sergei from Google.

She wasn’t even sure how they acted at work but decided they were probably tough and worked around the clock. So she put on a tough exterior, worked constantly, and suppressed her true self completely.

Some of this worked. Dina was named a Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneur, one of 10 Women of Web 2.0 by Fast Company, and she was invited to speak at conferences around the world. Life on the outside looked perfect but on the inside, it was a mess.

The mess of the dichotomy between her outside world, and what was happening on the inside, led to intense panic attacks for two years, until one day she decided she needed to get healthy again.

She abruptly quit her job and left to travel the world for two and a half years, never looking back.

Dina reached a pivotal point during a silent retreat in India when she realized she spent her whole life trying to be popular and it wasn’t serving her. During a meditation she realized she had the power to change herself, and to choose to be authentic. In that moment she had a life changing realization — that everyone could benefit from meditation, but meditation retreats didn’t have to be this hard. (She had no soap, no toilet paper, no AC, and it was 120 degrees Fahrenheit!)

At that moment, on retreat, a voice came to her and said, “When you come back to the US you’ll start a company to make meditation more mainstream, to be beautiful and full of light. And you’ll call it The Path.”

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

Mindfulness, according to Dina, is about focusing your way. And about paying attention without judgement. It’s not just “clearing your mind” or “thinking of nothing.” It is allowing your thoughts to be there but not judging them.

There are Four Main Categories of Meditation

Meditation can be for everyone. There are hundreds if not thousands of types of meditations to choose from, however, most fit into these main categories.

  1. Mindfulness Meditation. This is the most known in the West. It involves focusing on a single point (such as the breath). Mindfulness benefits include reducing stress and training the mind to focus.
  2. Manta Meditation This style is meditating around a “mantra” or a sanskrit word, such as “so hum.” This type of meditation ant is great at increasing creativity and also reducing stress.
  3. Energizing Meditation. Meditation can bring natural energy to the body when you incorporate breath work such as alternate nostril breathing or Kundalini work.
  4. Goal Based Meditation. Goal based meditations are used when the student wants to invite a certain aspect into his or her life, such as more compassion or gratitude.

MEDITATION & BUSINESS GO HAND IN HAND

As life becomes more and more stressful, meditation becomes even more important.

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”

-Old Zen saying

Juggling work and life creates an impact on the mind, body and spirit. Meditation can help balance your business life and provide strategies for coping with the stress of it all. In addition to reducing stress, it can increase focus, happiness and overall health…leading you to show up every day as your best self. Many high-level CEOs discuss the importance of meditating. Leverage co-founder and CEO Nick Sonnenberg tells how it helps increase productivity and aids in managing ADD.

While the benefits of meditation are becoming more mainstream, some people are wary of beginning… associating it with “woo-woo” practices instead of an easily accessible part of a daily routine.

HOW CAN YOU START?

The first step to meditation is to close your eyes, and breathe. It’s that simple. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no “wrong way” to meditate.

If you are ready to take the first step with the help of a teacher, you can find a well-known teacher such as Sharon Salzburg or Jon Kabat-Zinn online and view a few of their teachings. If you’re in NY, LA, or San Fran email dina@thepath.com directly and she will help you find a local teacher.

There is also the opportunity to join Sharon and Will Kabat-Zinn (Jon’s son!) this June during a meditation retreat (sponsored by The Path) designed specifically for entrepreneurs and creatives. This retreat, MELA takes place in beautiful Sedona with the theme “conscious leadership.” It is open to all levels of meditators from beginners to experienced. You’ll have the chance to unwind, meditate and mingle amongst a group of CEOs, including Leverage’s Nick Sonnenberg.

If you have any questions regarding the retreat, email sit@thepath.com. We hope to see you in June!

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Aug 20, 2018

Hilary Corna teaches leaders and teams how to solve problems more effectively. As former Senior Executive Officer for Toyota, she helped improve dealership operations for Toyota and ran all of their Kaizen projects for the Asia-Pac region, based out of its Singapore HQ. She is currently consulting for Leverage to implement Kaizen throughout the company and reshape its internal processes.

She’s also bestselling author of One White Face, and a prominent writer and speaker featured on Forbes, TedX, the Muse, and more.

WHAT IS KAIZEN?

Kai = change

Zen = for the better

Therefore Kaizen translates to continuously improving a company — or more specifically its processes — for the better.

The philosophy of Kaizen is deeply rooted in Toyota and the Japanese way of conducting business. It infiltrates all parts of the Toyota brand, and has quickly caught on in the US…sometimes taking on the form of popular buzzwords like Six Sigma or “Lean” business.

Kaizen is important because it is proactive rather than reactive. While most companies hum along through day-to-day operations until something goes wrong and then scramble to implement changes, Kaizen advocates for ongoing assessment and incremental changes.

By constantly implementing small improvements, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and ahead of the competition.

COMMON COMPANY ISSUES

During her time with Toyota, Hilary and her team acted as internal consultants and used a “pika pika” — or a test site — to work within six month projects, analyze all the processes and find ways to improve them.

At Toyota, once a process is improved and it is successful, it is made a standard and implemented throughout the other dealers.

There are two main issues with how a majority of companies try to tackle problems:

  1. They jump to a solution before truly understanding the problem
  2. They act based on an instinct rather than quantifying the problem

#1 can lead to implementing a solution that isn’t dealing with the root of the problem, while #2 focuses on “putting out fires.” Often if an issue is at hand it may feel urgent and give the illusion that a lot of clients are having the same issue, however, a business must consider if this actually a recurring problem, i.e. how often it happens and to how many clients/customers.

“A lot of businesses are good at implementing solutions…but not the right solutions.”

-Hilary Corna

THE WORK IN IMAGES

The images in this section are from Go Lean Six Sigma, an online kaizen training program. The first image shows how deeply you can get into a Kaizen project, or how to uncover the problems to put the right solution in place.

For instance, the blue and pink columns show the level of Kaizen work for startups and young companies where the issues or problems are typically unknown.

The last three columns, orange, green and brown, are typically used for proven or longstanding companies that need redesigned or completely new infrastructure.

The main difference between a Six Sigma and Lean strategies is the way it qualifies improvement. Six Sigma strives to reduce variation in an experience or a process. A good example is a restaurant. If a restaurant sometimes has hour long waits, sometimes accepts walk-ins, sometimes allows people to wait at the bar first, etc., those are all variations in the user/customer experience. Six Sigma would aim to reduce the restaurant variation.

The term “Lean” aims to reduce waste by streamlining the process. Both have the same aim but have different core beliefs as to how you get there.

The 8 wastes — “muda” in Japanese — are compiled in the image below. The 8 wastes are easily translated to fit all industries.

Eg: Motion could be measuring how often is a person moving to complete their job. In one of her studies, Hilary found that a team member had to walk a total of 2.5 miles (over a span of days) to complete one contract. This is an example of a waste problem a business doesn’t even know it has unless it begins to study and measure it.

 

THE TAKEAWAY — TREAT EVERYTHING LIKE A PROCESS

Implementing Kaizen or Lean Six Sigma can be done in ANY type of business and its processes. Client success, hiring/firing, sales, marketing — you name it, there is a process for it. And when there is a process, there is inevitably waste and room for improvement.

As we’ve said before we are big advocates of Process Street and using it to document every process whether it is three steps or 100 steps, in order to safeguard your business, and also to analyze and find holes in the processes to continuously improve them (Kaizen).

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Aug 13, 2018

Janet spends most of her time writing contracts and business strategies, but her biggest interest lies in first principles — how to find gaps that exist in a specific industry in order to capitalize on opportunities.

Her method could’ve saved the taxi industry from being overtaken by Uber and even anticipated the massive success of AirBnB.

Big claims, we know.

But, if you can find the white space that exists within an industry, you can see where there’s opportunity or where competition might be looming.

To start understanding her method, consider this question.

Q: How many problems around the world do you think all businesses are solving? Keep in mind they are solving problems we don’t even think are problems during our daily routine like grabbing a bagel, drinking water, brushing teeth, transportation, etc.

A: Only six problems. S-I-X!

A business is solving 1 (or more) of these six problems: Who, what, where, when, how or why.

THE SIX ROOT PROBLEMS

These are called the ROOT problems, because every problem can fit into at least one of these archetypes.

1. Who

-Related to people. It can solve the problem of identifying someone with certain attributes and skills, or matching two people through a selection process.

-Recruitment, performance testing, who business is tinder and the olympic games (either a match or who is the best at something)

-The olympics (who is best) and Tinder (who matches with who) are two variations of who companies.

2. What

-Relates to facts. It is either solving the problem of a lack of info or info that needs to be interpreted in some way.

-Explains what happens now, what happened in the past or what could happened in the future.

-An example of a what business is Wikipedia.

3. Where

-Questions concerned with locations, venues, markets, or where to go to get what you need or want.

-A well known where company is Etsy.

4. When

-Deals with issues connected to the aspect of time, therefore clients and customers are curious to when something will take place.

-Businesses that revolve around scheduling or calendars, such as the classic TV Guide, where time is the principle problem.

5. Why

-Gives understanding of why something happens, such as researching behavior analysis, or telling the story of why someone should do something or why we should take a certain action.

-Not many businesses fit within this prototype.

6. How

-Provides instructions or practical information in some way. How to do something or how to make something function.

-Largely tech or software based.

-The largest how organization is the UN — originally created to solve the problem of how to prevent another World War.

SOLVING THE SIX ROOT PROBLEMS

For the six different problems, a business can provide up to four solutions. These four solutions aren’t a standard, they are simply an umbrella category that all solutions can fall under.

FOUR SOLUTIONS

  1. Information — this is an exchange of knowledge, not necessarily showing how to fix a problem, rather it could also just explain a problem. It can be written, audio, or other types of info provided on a topic.
  2. Help — this solution provides assistance. The business takes care of the problem for the customer bc they either don’t want to or they can’t do it themselves. Services fall within this category.
  3. Tools — someone is providing a tangible product. This is the most common solution. Think: consumer goods, food, etc.
  4. Platforms — connect people and things together for a specific purpose. It is arguably the most interesting category. Platforms provide a venue (online or in person) for discussing things or selling things. It helps the customer accomplish a different purpose than most of the other solutions.

Therefore we have six problems with four solutions. All businesses exist within this matrix.

Let’s say that again … ALL businesses exist within the 6X4 matrix.

To use the matrix, choose a company or industry. Then choose a vertical that describes the problem of the industry.

Once you have the vertical, run through the four solutions to see if there are big players in each of those spaces. If there isn’t a player, then this is white space in the industry and an opportunity for disruption.

Example: the travel industry, prior to AirBnB

A platform prior to AirBnB didn’t exist, allowing it to fulfill that need within the travel market and completely disrupt the industry…quickly becoming the leader in lodging that it is today.

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Aug 6, 2018

Ryan’s background and primary focus is in wealth management, or how to properly manage your $ to make $.

He is a Partner at Copperleaf Capital and co-founder of AE Wealth Management, valued over $4 billion in assets.

Let’s just say Ryan knows what he’s doing. And he does it the right way.

His focus is on staying in front of the industry. Rather than waiting for harsh regulations to determine what is “right” or “legally acceptable,” Ryan seeks to reduce conflicts of interest and promotes transparency in every aspect of the client relationship.

WHAT IS THE CURRENT FORECAST?

A good way to stay in front of the industry is to know what’s coming in the future.

In his opinion, there is a looming crackdown on revenue sharing arrangements. What is revenue sharing? Let’s use this example.

ABC financial is a BIG firm and they have a “preferred” provider list that they refer their clients to regularly. In order to get onto ABC financial’s list, they ask companies to pay a fee, sometimes millions in order to get top shelf placement.

Another example is Payola. In the 1950’s there was a debacle in which a famous DJ was taking money from record producers in exchange for airtime (a tactic now called Payola). He was charged by the FCC and sent to prison.

Airwaves are protected, but your financial advice is not.

Ryan’s focus is to give advice based on merit, not based on payouts.

“Only 1% of the industry operates based on merit. We are part of the 1%, because we believe people should give honest advice.”

– Ryan Heath

IS CRYPTOCURRENCY HERE TO STAY?

Everybody wants to know WHAT the deal is with the whole cryptocurrency phenomenon we have among us. So naturally, we asked Ryan.

He suggests this is probably the first iteration of many, and he wouldn’t be surprised if a few of the crypto companies team together to create one strong currency. Hmm…interesting.

Right now, he tells his clients if they are investing in crypto, this is investing in SPECULATION…and it is important to know the difference. It’s not the same as investing in a stock like Apple per se, because there’s not a specific, proven, operating business.

Therefore you should be using these types of investments as “extra,”’ investments IF you have money to invest that goes above and beyond your base plan.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE BETWEEN A ROTH IRA, 401K, OR PROFIT SHARING KEOGH?

The primary difference between a Roth account and ALL the others, is that you put in money after you pay the tax on the money, then you grow tax free and never pay taxes again. Yes, we said never, as long as you follow the rules. You can even take it out tax free.

And, there are ROTH versions of most of these types of accounts.

How to look at it: If you were a farmer are you going to pay tax on the seed at the store or the harvest when it comes in and most ppl would choose the seed … bc you know it should at least come back to you if not make even more profit.

Most ppl are moving towards Roth accounts, I.e. pay the piper and be done with it.

KNOW YOUR RISK PROFILE

There’s a difference between your risk tolerance and capacity. The former being what you are willing and comfortable risking and the latter being how much you are actually capable of risking.

There is also a difference between risk and volatility in the market.

  • Risk is if an investment could implode at any moment
  • Volatility means the price moves up and down frequently, but the investment most likely won’t implode

Ex: Apple is a volatile stock because it fluctuates, but more than likely it isn’t going to completely dissolve.

THE REAL SECRET TO SUCCESS

Wealth is built through slow and steady investments. Forget the big, risky investments and focus on the steady ones that promise decent returns. Even by working with billionaires, Ryan notes that most of their investments are extremely conservative.

He also suggests going with someone you trust.

There are a lot of robo-investors or automated tools out there that can get you started and if you’re looking to invest $50/mo or start small, then those can get the job done. But, they don’t replace a person and the ability to dig deep into what fits each client’s needs and interests, so once your portfolio begins to grow it is important to have a trusted advisor to guide you.

THE BOOK

If you want more of this sage advice, you can read his book Life. Perfected. It was an instant Amazon best seller, hitting the #1 list on retirement planning in the print and digital edition. The goal of the book was to take complex financial matters and make it simple for everyone to understand.

Money should be a catalyst that allows you to live your life to perfection. Not the only thing we’re striving for.

100% of book proceeds are donated to the Make a Wish Foundation.

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Jul 30, 2018

Kyle has worked with some of the best in the industry, from an early start with Google’s Chris Sacca and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, to CEO’s and Boards of Directors at Fortune 500 brands like GAP and Old Navy.

He spent the majority of his career in consumer goods and consumer products and services, working directly with the voice of consumers to lead product creation. His experience also stretches into tech, automation, platforms, and even government organizations.

We call him the Kyle of all trades.

This robust past led him to start his own company, Be Courageous, to help others learn how to be better leaders of their companies and make a lasting impact.

According to Kyle, Be Courageous is all about the BREAKTHROUGHS.

  • Breakthroughs in company culture (how to better your leaders and your team)
  • Breakthroughs in strategy (how to get to the future — or where you want to be — faster and with focus)
  • Breakthroughs in innovation (liberating possibilities and releasing virtuous products to the world in a unique way)

All of this, of course, is intrinsically tied to marketing — the ability to answer and important, unmet need and to present your unique product or service to your target audience in a relatable way…in order to make the sale.

GET AHEAD OF THE CURVE

One way to get ahead of the curve is to consider the full impact — including the implications — of a trend, product, service or business. The implications (often unrelated to your own business) can still have a significant effect on your business. Considering both positive and negative impacts is important.

Regularly anticipating how industry trends might impact you and your business will provide the foresight to understand larger scale and long term implications of a trend. This can set your company apart from the competitors if you act on them ahead of the curve.

For example, self driving cars are here and will be an even bigger thing of the future. So, for the all of the good to come from self driving, electric cars — we need to stop to consider… what are the implications? What are the outside factors that will be affected?

If the demand for gas decreases and we no longer have to use energy drinks and snacks to stay awake and alert on the road, then we won’t need to stop as often at gas stations. This means the mini-marts attached to gas stations could lose revenue or may need to completely transform their offerings to fit this new paradigm.

Does this theory work solely for self driving cars? Not even close. Instead of niching in an industry, this model fits them all.

Disruption can come from anywhere.

Looking at the implications can help you self assess, it can provide deep insight into what your current and future customers may need, and it gives a broad understanding of what your competitors might be working on behind the scenes.

THREE CATEGORIES FOR COMPANY SUCCESS

Any company wanting to create something new will need to consider the following three categories we mentioned at the beginning of the article:

Innovation

Strategy

Culture

In today’s market a common goal is quick, exponential growth. AKA creating something worth megabucks for yourself — or making something that a larger company can acquire for megabucks.

Each business strives for immense growth without losing the essential essence and heart of its original idea.

With growth we may face potential trade offs, herein lies both issues and opportunities. When the iPhone was created people were psyched to have the new device. At the time it seemed nearly perfect. As time progressed and having an iPhone became the norm, people realized there were trade offs — Apple users wanted longer battery life, durability to withstand shattering when dropped, better camera features, etc.

To solve a problem before it becomes a problem, Be Courageous strives to figure out how to anticipate these trade offs and implications customers will want long before they have to ask for them. I.e. how do we get to the future faster and master that future TODAY through courageous breakthroughs.

SECRET SAUCE

Of all the companies, what is it that makes the good ones great? What is the “secret sauce?”

Kyle’s experience working with companies from VC backed startups to Fortune brands helped frame the answer to this elusive question. From hosting a few thousand sessions and specifically interviewing 70+ Fortune companies about their Frameworks of success they developed 7 core principles — These principles provide a snapshot of the most important areas for companies to focus on.

Step one is to know your company’s WHY. Why are you here? Why do you do what you do? And why that is important?

The WHY will help guide your answers through the 7 Core principles.

Since he is the expert, we won’t try to reiterate it when we can share his words verbatim.

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Jul 23, 2018

Voice Over: In this episode, we’re testing out our new webinar platform, Crowdcast. Check out this interview with Crowdcast developer and CEO, Sai Hossain and see how Crowdcast can streamline the webinar process for you.

At Leverage we searched high and low for the ideal webinar platform, until we found Crowdcast…and we had to look no further.

To kick-off our use of this new platform, we hosted a webinar about the platform, interviewing CEO Sai Hossain.

Turns out, Sai has a background in development and the CEO actually built the very first version of the tool. Years ago while spending time in Costa Rica surrounded by meditators and yogis, he realized there were important messages that needed to be shared with the world but there wasn’t a proper platform that allowed the non “techies” ease of use to reach the masses.

In his previous experiences with webinar platforms, the tools were designed for marketing tactics or for holding team meetings, with the perk of hosting a webinar on the side. However, Sai envisioned something more.

The Old & Outdated

Historically speaking, there are three long and laborious parts to hosting a webinar.

  1. A long form where the attendee must submit personal info, which can feel invasive to say the least.
  2. An email reminder sent to the attendee about a week before the webinar, that’s hard to remember or to keep track of by the time the event rolls around seven days later.
  3. Wonky downloads needed that a new user sometimes won’t even realize is required until they try to join the webinar. By the time the tool is downloaded, they miss crucial parts of the presentation.

Let’s hope in this case history doesn’t ever repeat itself.

Crowdcast: The Breakthrough

The vision for Crowdcast was to eliminate these three tedious steps into one easy process. The user submits their email to attend the webinar and BOOM they are in the event room. Once in the room, users can see the countdown to the event or even submit questions prior to the webinar, all which runs through a browser, which wasn’t an easy feat.

Plus, since this takes place in a browser — no need to download tools. The browser makes it simple to find previous webinars by the same party and to review the recording in as little as 15 seconds post webinar.

Down Sides

Nothing is always rainbows and butterflies, and every tool has its limitations. One of the downsides of the browser model is video quality. It’s only as good as your streaming allows, however Crowdcast is a big believer in pushing the limits and the team is already reaching for improvements like HD recording. Crowdcast recently launched a whole new way to stream in HD by connecting to professional live-streaming gear and software.

Best browser to support Crowdcast = Chrome (surprise, surprise). Firefox works well too, but Safari isn’t recommended. #SorryApple.

Up Sides

There’s much more good than bad when using Crowdcast.

  • Chrome extension — easily share your screen during the session
  • Time stamped questions — if you review the webinar, you can jump to the parts that
  • Live Polls — ask survey questions to your audience and see live results
  • Analytics — these are visible only to the host. At the least you’ll see how many people are attending vs. how many registered and if you want to get fancy you can track their geo location and their referral info. Ex: did they join from Twitter or Facebook, and what is the conversion rate per channel?

COMING SOON

The future of Crowdcast is going to make your webinar life even easier. Soon, your specific page will become a “channel” that your audience can follow on a regular basis. Therefore instead of sending a new invite or a link for each webinar, your followers will be automatically notified every time you go live — through email, browser and the IOS App…stay tuned!

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Jul 16, 2018

Voice Over: On this episode, our guest is Caya, CEO and cofounder of Slidebean. Slidebean is a cloud based presentation tool that makes creating well-crafted and well-designed slide decks simple and easy.

Slidebean was a part of Start-Up Chile — one of the most important accelerators in Latin America, 500 Startups — one of the best US accelerators, named “3rd Most Valuable Internet Startup” in Costa Rica, and it was featured in TechCrunch. Etcetera, etcetera…the impressive list goes on.

So what’s all the buzz about?

 

Au revoir Prezi and PowerPoint!

Now anyone can make a high-end designer grade presentation without spending a lot of time and money on becoming–or hiring–a designer. One of Slidebean’s many pros is that it has an easy to use drag and drop feature which allows styling in one user-friendly click.

The start of Slidebean.

The founders of Slidebean are all graphic designers by trade. They noticed a big problem looming in the business world. Too many people were struggling to put together decent looking presentations on their own, yet this is a skill most people need to know how to tackle on their own.

Existing presentation tools such as Prezi, Google Slides and Keynote are all reliable tools, if one invests the time it takes to properly understand how to use them. These tools tend to be difficult and time consuming for users without a design background.

Enter, Slidebean.

Slidebean created a simple user interface — so simple that they actually created it to prevent the customer from being able to complicate — which means they had the foresight to think of issues that could arise. Such as, custom changing the template color. It seems like an option that some people may want, but in this case it would change the model of the template and make it more difficult to work with so that (as of now) isn’t an option.

Basically, the team designed this template so that the ones using it don’t get in their own way.

Why Slidebean stands out.

Above and beyond its usability, there are other perks to tossing out your old ways of making a deck and trying something new.

  1. Cloud based system: no messy application installations needed.
  2. Analytics: this is music to a marketing and sales team’s ears. It has built in analytics, therefore you can understand how people interact with each slide in your presentation.
  3. Giffy and video integration… need we say more?
  4. Ability to keep it secret: you can share this with only the people you choose by sending them a safe link.

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Jul 9, 2018

Voice-over: On this episode, our guest is Clate Mask, CEO of InfusionSoft, a unique suite of tools that merges marketing strategy, CRM software and the power of automation in one simple package. Designed for small businesses, it’s the perfect marriage of convenience and customization for client communications that can save your business valuable time and money.

We recently started the process of becoming an Infusionsoft partner. Even in the very beginning of our application we were pleasantly surprised to see a plethora of information and insights offered about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and its relationship to marketing efforts.

Infusionsoft is — at its core — a CRM software. It is built specifically for small businesses to help organize each part of its client communications, in order to deliver better service to leads, prospects and current customers.

At the heart of Infusionsoft, it is a CRM system. However, it has layers of aspects intertwined natively into its system to combine the traditional CRM with a full array of small business services. This glorified way of functioning makes it a more efficient tool that has the ability to convert leads without using a large amount of manpower.

Traditional CRM vs. Infusionsoft

When people think of customer relationship management systems often they think in the traditional sense of what used to be the standard. This means a contact is stored in a database, and every type of interaction with that specific contact is on record. Plus you can add notes, plan meetings, and so forth–all related to one person.

Alas, with a traditional CRM many people miss out on the key interactions of a one-to-many model and are limited to the one-to-one interactions. This is limiting due to the fact that you either:

a.) Have a few solid, manageable relationships on a one-to-one basis or

b.) Speak to everyone as if they are the same person, losing the personalized and “tailored” communications.

With Infusionsoft, it combines the aspects of a traditional CRM system to provide organization but also goes light-years beyond to allow the ability to integrate marketing and sales aspects and have the important one-to-one AND one-to-many types of communications.

Customer Database + Marketing + Sales + Service (such as eCommerce) = Infusionsoft

“The more you get into the power of Infusionsoft, the more you’ll be blown away by what’s possible in creating efficiency and leverage for your customers” -Clate Mask

Why Infusionsoft is Different…In a Good Way.

Infusionsoft believes marketing and CRM must be integrated. In fact, Clate says it is essential that they work together seamlessly. The other differentiation and benefit of using this tool is its automation capabilities.

With Infusionsoft, you can automate and execute different processes. Especially as a small business, this is an important key factor in running your business. From email sequences to drip campaigns that lead to Landing Pages (also created with Infusionsoft), the options are nearly endless.

Automation is what really makes Infusionsoft stand out from other CRMs. When clients learn to use automation to their benefit they get more leverage (Ahem, no pun intended) out of their client database.

This is For Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs.

“95% of Infusionsoft’s customers are small businesses with 25 employees or less.” -Clate Mask

Whether you have a 5 person or 25 person company, you need the ability to manage a lead from the time they become a lead throughout their entire life cycle as a client — hopefully for years to come. Infusionsoft offers that unique set-up.

Infusionsoft Made Major Changes.

Several years ago, customers were confused when using Infusionsoft because it initially came into the market positioning itself as powerhouse CRM system.

When the company realized some of its features and options were intimidating to users, it did as any good company would and pivoted. It created a simplified user interface, and improved the user experience, but not to worry it is still a powerhouse of a product if and when you need it to be.

Keep in mind, this is a suite of tools. In the long run, using Infusionsoft would make integrated sales and marketing with your CRM simpler and less expensive, since these capabilities are native to its software. Plus, it has an open API so if you want to get really creative, the [Infusionsoft] world is your oyster.

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Jul 2, 2018

A former digital ad agency exec turned entrepreneur, shares her tried and true techniques gleaned from her years in digital marketing. Now, as an entrepreneur, she’s adapted this experience into five steps that will help any small business build a solid social presence.

Listen in and learn from our own Content and Strategy specialist how to plan, create, launch and grow your brand online without breaking the bank.

 

Social is now the foundation of any company’s digital footprint. With the digital landscape changing and evolving daily, trying to keep up can be a daunting process. Running a small business is enough of a struggle. And our very own Leverage Content and Strategy specialist, Ann Marie Almariei, has worked with many big brands to plan, create, launch, and grow their presence on the social landscape.

When Ann Marie decided two years ago to take the next big step in her career to launch her own brand, her past experiences helped her realize how important her knowledge was — not only for her own company, but for other entrepreneurs and small businesses she found herself working with along the way.

Small businesses don’t have the resources to hire an agency for a six-figure social strategy. So she decided to hack the big agency process and create a series of workshops and micro-strategies to help simplify the process.

The following techniques can help any small business build a solid social foundation, prioritize resources, and begin building a meaningful brand presence from day 1. And without breaking the bank.

Know where your opportunity is.

The big biz approach:

The process generally begins with discovery, starting with an exhaustive review of the main competitors social platforms. What are they doing well? What are they not doing well? Where are their opportunities to improve? Followed by an audit of consumer conversations that are already happening in the space. What do consumers talk about? Is the sentiment positive or negative? What are the popular hashtags being used? Which platforms dominate the conversation? Where can your company be part of this conversation?

Once the research is complete, findings are summarized in a competitive audit, social listening report and SWOT analysis (more on SWOT below). This is normally a one to two month process and can be costly.

The small biz approach:

Knowing your competition is always important — regardless of the size of your business. Do your own competitive audit by looking at your top three competitors plus one company who’s tangential to your space but doing it really well (a lot can be learned here, both from the good and the bad). Take time to look at their social platforms and see what their customers talk about.

Even if your company has been in business 10 years, this is always a worthwhile exercise. It helps to stay relevant and adapt your business to your customers as their needs change. Use your findings to do a SWOT analysis. The SWOT is helpful in identifying white spaces within the social landscape that can help your business.

 

Plan before you execute.

The big biz approach:

Once the discovery process is complete, the business goals and opportunities identified are used to develop a strategy. This strategy becomes the North Star that sets the tone for the social channels. Sometimes the strategy is altered depending on the platform. Each platform presents many different opportunities based on functionality and user behavior. The strategy should not only be based on your business objectives — it needs to add value for the user.

Within each platform strategy is a content strategy. It consists of a high level approach to the type of content to be created, how often it’s posted, and how it will help reach goals and metrics. ‘Content pillars’ are often created to give guidance on the topics and within these pillars a few different ‘content series’ that can make a regular appearance on the feed and become brand-ownable assets. The platform strategy, content strategy, pillars, content series’ and goals are usually packaged into a playbook or guidelines that are used to implement against.

The small biz approach:

First thing, reserve your brand handles across all platforms. Keeping the handle consistent — this might require deviating from your name slightly (for example, ‘Leverage’ could become @GetLeverage or @LeverageProductivity). Next, identify where your biggest opportunities are. Platforms where your target audience are highly active should be given priority and launched first. It really is ok to have channels that are inactive — just make sure you direct visitors to an active channel where they can engage.

Once you’ve identified your primary platform(s) try to commit a small amount of resources to plan how to get the best return on investment (ROI). Here’s how…

Look at the platform’s key strengths and user behaviors. Find an overlap where your brand can bring value to the audience.

That’s your sweet spot.

If [Instagram = beautiful photos] + [Your business = farm to table food], your social sweet spot would likely be visually sharing beautiful food, recipes and behind the scenes of the farms used to source ingredients.

This particular part of the process can be fun and benefits from getting a bit creative. Recruit some of your social media savvy friends and family for help or reach out to the leverage team and we’ll get you started. A mini platform playbook that outlines your pillars, content series and a few creative templates can make a big difference getting those first platforms up and running.

Once it’s gaining traction and your resources allow, expand into your secondary platforms.

Get creative with your execution.

The big biz approach:

Brands are investing bigger portions of their marketing budget into social media production, making it difficult for smaller brands to break through the clutter. Their robust social media guidelines can include in-depth tone of voice, character inspiration, catch-phrases and editorial guidelines — plus photography, illustration, iconography and video guidelines. This process can be exhaustive with guidelines well over 100 pages.

The small biz approach:

This doesn’t need to be exhaustive for a small business. Choosing some guidelines for your voice and look/feel can help establish your company’s brand presence.

Think of your brand as a person. What kind of person would be speaking to your audience. Who would they relate to? Assigning some key personality traits and maybe even attaching a celebrity persona to aspire to can help. Keep a cheat sheet handy when creating content to inspire the tone. Choose a few creative executions that can serve as templates with brand colors, elements and logo treatments to establish a visual look and feel.

Don’t get too cookie cutter in your approach, or users will tune you out. Outsourcing creative help to establish some basic tenents for your social guidelines doesn’t cost big bucks and will be extremely helpful as your social footprint expands.

 

Get in there and mingle.

The big biz approach:

Being an active part of the community once you’ve launched is important (platforms may even ‘demote’ you in content feeds if you don’t). Because of this, most companies and big brands hire full-time community managers who post, comment and share across platforms… being present and active just as a human would. Many of the recent changes we’re seeing across platforms make organic reach more difficult, so brands invest in paid media to get the additional reach they need to get in front of their audiences.

The small biz approach:

Being an active part of the community for a small business can be challenging. Even more reason to prioritize to only your priority platforms. Posting, monitoring and engaging with your audience is something all businesses need to do regardless of size, so deciding where to invest time and money is important. Here are a few things to consider:

Use existing resources: Identify a person on your team who can take an hour each day to participate in channels. They can answer queries, respond to comments and engage with the audience. It’s also easier for them to adapt their voice to your brand because they are closest to it.

Hire someone part-time: A part-timer can monitor the channels and keep your brand active and engaged. They can jump into conversations can add value — even expand your organic reach.

Leverage trending topics: Talk about things happening in the news (organic reach is possible when stories are topical and relevant). For example, look at the trending hashtags on twitter. What are people talking about? Contributing a piece of content that makes you relevant (and even better, useful) can go a long way. Don’t overthink it — you have to be timely and you can get scrappy with the execution. Here are a few examples we like:

During the season finale of Game of Thrones, the US Olympics saw an opportunity and had this tweet up almost instantly:

Always be a work in progress.

Social is a fickle beast. I hope you will go in armed with the knowledge that this is the consumer’s party and the playlist is going to keep you on your toes. We can teach you a few go-to moves that will help you fit in. Then wait for those moments where you’ve got some killer moves to show off and jump into the spotlight. Be willing to adapt, change and learn as you go. React, refine and revisit.

Just remember, you don’t have to do it all. Just be strategic about where you think the big wins will be and start small. Who’s ready!?

This post was written by Ann Marie Almariei

Ann Marie is the Founder and CEO of will-it.com, an estate planning technology focused on the ‘who gets what’. She is the organizer of ‘Social for StartUps’ a local meet-up in Boston, MA where regularly speaks and holds workshops for other entrepreneurs and small businesses. She is also a Creative and Strategy Specialist with Leverage and available to members for coaching calls and projects.

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Start engaging with our network, join our FREE online Slack community and click here to be added to our insiders list!

Jul 2, 2018

A former digital ad agency exec turned entrepreneur, shares her tried and true techniques gleaned from her years in digital marketing. Now, as an entrepreneur, she’s adapted this experience into five steps that will help any small business build a solid social presence.

Listen in and learn from our own Content and Strategy specialist how to plan, create, launch and grow your brand online without breaking the bank.

 

Social is now the foundation of any company’s digital footprint. With the digital landscape changing and evolving daily, trying to keep up can be a daunting process. Running a small business is enough of a struggle. And our very own Leverage Content and Strategy specialist, Ann Marie Almariei, has worked with many big brands to plan, create, launch, and grow their presence on the social landscape.

When Ann Marie decided two years ago to take the next big step in her career to launch her own brand, her past experiences helped her realize how important her knowledge was — not only for her own company, but for other entrepreneurs and small businesses she found herself working with along the way.

Small businesses don’t have the resources to hire an agency for a six-figure social strategy. So she decided to hack the big agency process and create a series of workshops and micro-strategies to help simplify the process.

The following techniques can help any small business build a solid social foundation, prioritize resources, and begin building a meaningful brand presence from day 1. And without breaking the bank.

Know where your opportunity is.

The big biz approach:

The process generally begins with discovery, starting with an exhaustive review of the main competitors social platforms. What are they doing well? What are they not doing well? Where are their opportunities to improve? Followed by an audit of consumer conversations that are already happening in the space. What do consumers talk about? Is the sentiment positive or negative? What are the popular hashtags being used? Which platforms dominate the conversation? Where can your company be part of this conversation?

Once the research is complete, findings are summarized in a competitive audit, social listening report and SWOT analysis (more on SWOT below). This is normally a one to two month process and can be costly.

The small biz approach:

Knowing your competition is always important — regardless of the size of your business. Do your own competitive audit by looking at your top three competitors plus one company who’s tangential to your space but doing it really well (a lot can be learned here, both from the good and the bad). Take time to look at their social platforms and see what their customers talk about.

Even if your company has been in business 10 years, this is always a worthwhile exercise. It helps to stay relevant and adapt your business to your customers as their needs change. Use your findings to do a SWOT analysis. The SWOT is helpful in identifying white spaces within the social landscape that can help your business.

 

Plan before you execute.

The big biz approach:

Once the discovery process is complete, the business goals and opportunities identified are used to develop a strategy. This strategy becomes the North Star that sets the tone for the social channels. Sometimes the strategy is altered depending on the platform. Each platform presents many different opportunities based on functionality and user behavior. The strategy should not only be based on your business objectives — it needs to add value for the user.

Within each platform strategy is a content strategy. It consists of a high level approach to the type of content to be created, how often it’s posted, and how it will help reach goals and metrics. ‘Content pillars’ are often created to give guidance on the topics and within these pillars a few different ‘content series’ that can make a regular appearance on the feed and become brand-ownable assets. The platform strategy, content strategy, pillars, content series’ and goals are usually packaged into a playbook or guidelines that are used to implement against.

The small biz approach:

First thing, reserve your brand handles across all platforms. Keeping the handle consistent — this might require deviating from your name slightly (for example, ‘Leverage’ could become @GetLeverage or @LeverageProductivity). Next, identify where your biggest opportunities are. Platforms where your target audience are highly active should be given priority and launched first. It really is ok to have channels that are inactive — just make sure you direct visitors to an active channel where they can engage.

Once you’ve identified your primary platform(s) try to commit a small amount of resources to plan how to get the best return on investment (ROI). Here’s how…

Look at the platform’s key strengths and user behaviors. Find an overlap where your brand can bring value to the audience.

That’s your sweet spot.

If [Instagram = beautiful photos] + [Your business = farm to table food], your social sweet spot would likely be visually sharing beautiful food, recipes and behind the scenes of the farms used to source ingredients.

This particular part of the process can be fun and benefits from getting a bit creative. Recruit some of your social media savvy friends and family for help or reach out to the leverage team and we’ll get you started. A mini platform playbook that outlines your pillars, content series and a few creative templates can make a big difference getting those first platforms up and running.

Once it’s gaining traction and your resources allow, expand into your secondary platforms.

Get creative with your execution.

The big biz approach:

Brands are investing bigger portions of their marketing budget into social media production, making it difficult for smaller brands to break through the clutter. Their robust social media guidelines can include in-depth tone of voice, character inspiration, catch-phrases and editorial guidelines — plus photography, illustration, iconography and video guidelines. This process can be exhaustive with guidelines well over 100 pages.

The small biz approach:

This doesn’t need to be exhaustive for a small business. Choosing some guidelines for your voice and look/feel can help establish your company’s brand presence.

Think of your brand as a person. What kind of person would be speaking to your audience. Who would they relate to? Assigning some key personality traits and maybe even attaching a celebrity persona to aspire to can help. Keep a cheat sheet handy when creating content to inspire the tone. Choose a few creative executions that can serve as templates with brand colors, elements and logo treatments to establish a visual look and feel.

Don’t get too cookie cutter in your approach, or users will tune you out. Outsourcing creative help to establish some basic tenents for your social guidelines doesn’t cost big bucks and will be extremely helpful as your social footprint expands.

 

Get in there and mingle.

The big biz approach:

Being an active part of the community once you’ve launched is important (platforms may even ‘demote’ you in content feeds if you don’t). Because of this, most companies and big brands hire full-time community managers who post, comment and share across platforms… being present and active just as a human would. Many of the recent changes we’re seeing across platforms make organic reach more difficult, so brands invest in paid media to get the additional reach they need to get in front of their audiences.

The small biz approach:

Being an active part of the community for a small business can be challenging. Even more reason to prioritize to only your priority platforms. Posting, monitoring and engaging with your audience is something all businesses need to do regardless of size, so deciding where to invest time and money is important. Here are a few things to consider:

Use existing resources: Identify a person on your team who can take an hour each day to participate in channels. They can answer queries, respond to comments and engage with the audience. It’s also easier for them to adapt their voice to your brand because they are closest to it.

Hire someone part-time: A part-timer can monitor the channels and keep your brand active and engaged. They can jump into conversations can add value — even expand your organic reach.

Leverage trending topics: Talk about things happening in the news (organic reach is possible when stories are topical and relevant). For example, look at the trending hashtags on twitter. What are people talking about? Contributing a piece of content that makes you relevant (and even better, useful) can go a long way. Don’t overthink it — you have to be timely and you can get scrappy with the execution. Here are a few examples we like:

During the season finale of Game of Thrones, the US Olympics saw an opportunity and had this tweet up almost instantly:

Always be a work in progress.

Social is a fickle beast. I hope you will go in armed with the knowledge that this is the consumer’s party and the playlist is going to keep you on your toes. We can teach you a few go-to moves that will help you fit in. Then wait for those moments where you’ve got some killer moves to show off and jump into the spotlight. Be willing to adapt, change and learn as you go. React, refine and revisit.

Just remember, you don’t have to do it all. Just be strategic about where you think the big wins will be and start small. Who’s ready!?

This post was written by Ann Marie Almariei

Ann Marie is the Founder and CEO of will-it.com, an estate planning technology focused on the ‘who gets what’. She is the organizer of ‘Social for StartUps’ a local meet-up in Boston, MA where regularly speaks and holds workshops for other entrepreneurs and small businesses. She is also a Creative and Strategy Specialist with Leverage and available to members for coaching calls and projects.

Ready to Join the Community of Business and Productivity Enthusiasts?

Start engaging with our network, join our FREE online Slack community and click here to be added to our insiders list!

Jun 25, 2018

Financial App for Solopreneurs: Hurdlr Makes Accounting a Breeze

View your profits and capture your deductions in real time with this App.

 

Enjoy this interview with Raj Bhaskar, CEO of Hurdlr, about how this app makes financial tracking for the self-employed freelancers of the world complete and easy.

Hurdlr is dubbing this the “Financial App for Solopreneurs.”

Long gone are the days of saving piles of receipts and sifting through them every tax season. Good riddance!

So, if you’re an

  • Uber or Taxi Driver
  • Realtor
  • Freelancer
  • Contractor
  • Airbnb Host

Or any other type of self employed small business owner loving your freedom but hating the process of figuring out financials, this app might be a good fit for you.

Two major and differentiating advantages of Hurdlr, according to its CEO are:

  1. Shows real time profit before tax
  2. Shows real time profit after tax

The reason this is big news is because Hurdlr–unlike other apps–created its very own real time tax calculator to adjust for variation in taxes. This is real time in all 50 US states, Canada and Australia.

All you have to do to get started is login and connect the app with your bank account and credit card. From there it’s easy to track finances and capture all of your deductions as you go to get the most returns. You’ll also receive other perks such as:

  • If you have questions about the app, Hurdlr has a live in-app chat, with team members ready to answer your questions within 5 minutes during normal working hours and within 48 hours during the weekend, on average.
  • It integrates with systems like Square, FreshBooks, American Express, and 10k+ banks and credit cards to tap into a holistic view of your income and expenses.
  • Automatic mileage tracking: You can even set your work hours so that every day it knows when to ‘turn on’ tracking mode

If you’re an accountant or you like to rely on one, don’t fret! This app doesn’t replace your accountant, instead it helps make their job easier. You can send your reports directly to your accountant so they can provide the advice and guidance you need without wasting precious time on compiling all the nitty gritty details.

Ready to Join the Community of Business and Productivity Enthusiasts?

Start engaging with our network, join our free online Slack community and visit our website!

 

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