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Vending Machine

I’ll never forget the day Scott Stratten changed my mind about Facebook. Forever.

He was speaking at a conference and said to the audience, “You’ve been living rent-free on Facebook’s land and now it’s time to pay the rent.”

Scott was referring to the infamous decision by Facebook to decrease the organic reach of fan pages while simultaneously boosting its advertising platform.

In other words, Facebook is now pay-to-play.

While this isn’t categorically true, Facebook has admitted they are purposefully limiting how many fans see your content. If you want more than 10-12 percent of your fan base to see your stuff, you’ll likely need to pay to reach them.

On the surface, one might initially react as I did. Sort of like Lucy yanking the football away from Charlie Brown just as he’s about to kick. “Hey! What’s the big idea?!”

But when I stopped and thought about what Scott said, it made perfect sense to me. Here I was, bemoaning a capitalist endeavor for being, well, capitalist. Here I was whining and complaining about a business leveraging its assets to make a profit, when I was trying to do the same thing myself.

Facebook has a product people want. They have every right to charge people for their product.

It reminds me when I was in high school, working at a grocery store as a bagger. At one point, we had a magical vending machine in the break room. If you hit a certain key combination, you could get anything you wanted from the machine for free.

Then, one day, the combo suddenly stopped working. I don’t know if someone caught it and fixed it or if it was just a glitch in the Matrix. Either way, the gravy train stopped. If we wanted the goods, we had to pay.

Facebook has been a free vending machine for so many of us. Now it’s time to pay the .75 cents for our Snickers and stop whining.

When my Facebook paradigm changed, I saw the platform in a whole new way. Instead of “Facebook’s forcing me to reach fans! Boo-hoo!” I had the ability to connect with current and potential clients and customers from around the globe for cheap. What a privilege!

If you’re still pouty with Facebook for changing how many fans see your posts, here’s a few helpful solutions for moving forward:

1. Move your fans into an email list. If you want to capitalize on the organic reach you’re still able to get, tell all your fans to join your newsletter. This way you’ll have access to them regardless of what Facebook decides to do.

2. Experiment with ads. You’d be surprised at what you can do with $30 a month going to Facebook ads. We’re not talking about breaking the bank. This is a small, teeny, eentsy-weentsy (technical term) price to pay for connecting with your audience.

3. Don’t use Facebook. You aren’t being forced to use it. Facebook doesn’t owe you anything. Mark Zuckerberg is not holding a gun to your head. If you want to swim in Facebook’s pool, you have to play by Facebook’s rules. It’s that simple.

It is in the scorpion’s nature to sting. It is in a businesses nature to generate revenue. You have a choice in the matter. Do not be misled.

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2014-04-21 09.04.20

Take a look at this picture. What’s the message this business owner is sending to her customers?

I was leading a strategy session with a group of Iowa educators recently and stopped in to a local coffee shop for a quick cup. I was greeted by the signs on the door you see above. This one greeted me at the cash register:

2014-04-21 09.00.00

I had some time to kill so I read the entire page, and basically it says, “I’m charging you extra for using your credit card because the big, bad credit card companies are too expensive.”

Two words: Boo hoo.

Credit card companies certainly don’t do small business owners any favors, but it’s also an amazing privilege in this country to let people pay for goods and services USING A PIECE OF FREAKING PLASTIC. (I think the benefits were lost on this business owner, though.)

She could take a number of steps to limit her risk and improve the in-store experience for her customers. (Dwolla, anyone? Or, as some of my Instagram followers suggested, why not just get a new door?)

But instead, she chose to put a legal-briefing-sized memo on the front counter of her shop and treat her customers like they belong at the Midvale School for the Gifted.

Ultimately, what you have is a frustrated business owner blaming people “out there” for her problems rather than taking responsibility herself.

I imagine her thinking being something like this:

  • If only the credit card companies “out there” would stop charging me so much, then I could be profitable…
  • If only people “out there” would be able to figure out our door, then I wouldn’t have to put signs up…
  • If only we had more customers, then I wouldn’t have to charge such a high prices…

I left the coffee shop knowing, without a doubt, I wouldn’t be back if I stopped in that town again. I don’t like getting yelled at, whether it’s in-person or through signs.

But I struggle with this often as well. Blaming others for business problems that are no one’s fault but my own:

  • If only Facebook would stop charging me to reach my fans, then I could get the traffic I need…
  • If only my payment processor would deposit funds into my bank account quicker, then I’d have cash to spend on other opportunities…
  • If only I had more time in the day to get some of this stuff done…

If only, if only, if only, if only.

Maybe Facebook, my payment processor, and hours in the day aren’t the problem. The problem, in most cases, is me.

No one is forcing me to use Facebook. No one is forcing me to use PowerPay. No one is telling me how to spend my time. They are all choices I make. Period.

The “If-Only” mentality is lethal because it’s so subtle. It can go undetected for years—decades, even. It takes allowing trusted advisors, friends, and mentors into our lives to root out eliminate the “If-Only’s.” (I know I’d still be suffering with mine if it weren’t for people like my wife, my business coach, and my mentor.)

I’m working with a few, select individuals who want to stop making excuses and build a new reality for themselves. We call it the Think Digital Masters Class, and it’s designed to help you craft the life you want. We’re taking applications through the end of the month. If you’re interested, click here.


2014 is the year everyone must quit their job. Or, at least, that’s what James Altucher thinks.

He wrote an article recently and referenced the shrinking middle class, job dissatisfaction rates, and the new globally-connected workforce as reasons why you need to seriously think about 86′ing your 9-to-5.

Everything that’s outsource-able is getting outsourced. Robots are crowding humans out of the job market. The only thing most of us have to bring to the table anymore is…ourselves.

He made the compelling point that choosing yourself was the only job option for the future (and current) economy. In short, building a personal brand is a MUST.

On the other side of the coin, how many days have you thought to yourself:

  1. I literally do not care about my job. I wish someone would fire me…
  2. If I have to file ONE more TPS report…
  3. I was made to contribute something more to the world than this…

There never used to be a way out, sans taking on an ENORMOUS amount of personal and financial risk.

Now? Thankfully, now there is. The answer lies in you. Not in a weird, new age-y sense, but in your personal brand.

As I think through what the next step for people who graduate Think Digital Academy, we’ve settled on the Think Digital Masters Class.

What is it? It’s a four-month coaching program focused on building one of your most valuable assets: your personal brand.

Think of it as the conclusion of Think Digital Academy. It’s the next step to building your online audience and learning how to influence them to take action.

You may be wondering, “How is this any different than Think Digital Academy?”

Great question. If the Academy is basic training, the Masters Class is becoming a Navy SEAL. It’s a specialized course for go-getters who want to go to the next level.

We’ll be focusing on the four personal branding building blocks:

1. CRAFT Your Mindset. The biggest roadblock you face in building a personal brand isn’t resources, time, or talent. It’s your mindset. Before you do anything else, you need to get your mind right. It’s the most important asset you own!

2. CRAFT Your Focus. Many of us feel like we don’t know where to start. But you’d be shocked at how simple it is to get your audience-building engine up-and-running. You’ll get the battle-tested insight of what tools you need and how to stretch them to the limits.

3. CRAFT Your Traffic. Learn the advanced strategies you’re overlooking to build your online traffic—email, social, and blog. It’s the lifeline to your audience. Keep it locked and loaded, primed and pumped!

4. CRAFT Your Future. Ever wonder how much to charge for a speaking or consulting gig? What about setting up an LLC vs. a sole proprietorship? And bookkeeping—you’ve thought about that, right? When you start earning income, you’re going to need a system to keep you from getting bogged down in details.

If you’re interested, go ahead and sign-up here. We’ll send you an application and follow-up if we’re able to extend an invite. We’re keeping this first round super small, and we already have 53 applicants as of this post. So hurry up and get your name added to the list if you want in.

We’ll start reviewing applications at the end of the month. You have until Thursday, April 30, to apply. I’m not sure when we’ll offer the course again, so please plan accordingly!

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