Be it the toaster, my Dad's 1949 Ford or my motor-cross bike. I've been taking things apart and putting them back together my entire life. Curiosity is one of my drivers and I am always interested in how things work, what can make them work better and can it be automated.
At the age of 13 during a leadership conference the curiosity about myself was ignited. I was introduced to concepts like self-awareness, self-esteem, communication and co-operation. Essentially I became curious about what it was that made myself and the people around me tick. I quickly realized that the experience of life could be altered simply by being aware of and managing what was going on in the mind.
Around the same age I took my first trip to Australia and the curiosity quenching experience of travel was unleashed. I've travelled to over 35 countries and went back to Australia in my late 30's to live for a few years. I always felt that there would be answers out there somewhere. I've found a few.
Business was my next target of curiosity starting my first business at the age of 14, another at 16, studying business in my early 20's at university while running my own businesses during the summers, working a decade in the corporate world while always running my own businesses on the side.
Today I have brought all my experiences and experiments of curiosity together professionally. I help entrepreneurs build audiences for their thought leadership that drives lead acquisition, customer conversion and exponential revenue growth.
Shovel Versus a Backhoe & Working Smart
I grew up on a farm and every day my Dad would leave a list of chores on the kitchen table for my sister and I. He didn't use 8.5"x11" paper. It was always the yellow lined 8.5"x17" legal letter sized paper and at the bottom of the page a little arrow and the text "turn over".
There was a lot to do on the farm and my Dad loved to work hard. I was more interested in getting the work done fast so I could go do the things I liked to do. This was where I got passionate about "working smart". If my Dad wanted a hole dug, I would spend more time figuring out how to get a backhoe from the neighbour to did that hole in one swoop. It would often take me more time to figure out the "working smart" solution but then I was able to dig the hole and quite a few other items on the list in a fraction of the time.
Growing up on a farm with never ending lists of things to do inspired me to look at business through the lens of how can I do it faster, better and automate or outsource it.
The power of an audience
When I read The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, it reinforced that we are at a time in history where everyone really can have their 15 minutes of fame and build a following for anything. With the internet and all of the constantly improving methods of distribution and promotion we can build and scale an audience to any size.
"The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of "hits" (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare." - Chris Anderson, Author of The Long Tail
The success of any business is directly correlated with size and quality of the audience that follows it. In my early days of business I didn't realize that I was building an audience through transactions. They would work with me, enjoy the experience and come back and refer others. Now I build the audience before the transactions begin. I give a sizeable amount of my offering away for free, they get value, they come back, refer others and eventually they buy. The upfront investment is slightly higher but the results are exponentially better because of the size of audience I end up creating.
To build one of my online businesses I built an online audience of bookkeepers. I got there attention, gave them value for free, they returned and told others. When the trusted me enough. They bought.
They read our blogs and consume our free resources and from this audience we generate automatic customers that call us to buy. The whole process runs on autopilot.
An expert knows something. A thought leader is someone who is known for knowing something. - Matt Church, Founder, Thought Leaders Global.
When I lived in Australia in 2009 to 2011, I had the fortunate opportunity of working with two of the worlds leading experts in thought leadership, Matt Church and Peter Cook. They introduced me to the power of leveraging the unique message we all have from our experiences in life.
There are likely a few areas where you've spent a big portion of your life figuring out. This is your expertise. Leveraging this expertise may be one of the most commercially smart decisions you will ever make in your lifetime.
I love helping people understand this for themselves and seeing them leverage it in their businesses.
A friend dropped over to my place one weekend and saw the door was open in the garage. He walked in and saw a 49 Ford Hot Rod my Dad and I have been working on for most of my life, more tools than any one person should own, pictures all over the walls of adventures with my family and me standing over a fresh batch of beer made in my all grain micro-brewery that I like to experiment with when I get the time.
He said "Now I know WHY you do what you do!". He was right. What we do with our money and free time is a reflection of what we value the most. For me it is freedom, adventure, family, friendship, creativity and discovery.
Life is full of wonderful mystery. Be curious.