Your Success In Simple Terms (K.I.S.S. Revisited)

Storm and Wolverine kiss in an alternate timeline.



Keep It Simple, Stupid (or, as some prefer, Keep It Simple and Succinct).  You probably hear it used a lot and, as a result, it has become a bit of an empty phrase.

So, what does it really mean?

I strongly believe the intimacy shown in the above picture is something we small business folks should strive for: warm connections.

Let’s move away from the things that are empty and make us into cold, soulless entities. When you simplify, you have more time to focus on the good things life has to offer. Believe me, I know I could work on this more because I spread myself thin sometimes.

Intimacy and engagement (UNmarketing, if you prefer) go hand in hand.. And they make human interaction much more meaningful and fulfilling.

Now, I’m not saying we should go around being best friends with all our clients and prospects.  That’s just not realistic. What I am suggesting here is that we take a more personal approach to things, engage people, and focus on the things that really matterA few weeks back, Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, published a fantastic blog entry on dumbing things down and using our intelligence for good KISS-style. It really got me thinking once again:

Are we focusing on the right stuff? Maybe I am over-complicating things myself?

It made me take immediate action.

Thanks to his motivational post, I got some exciting new clients and projects. I got stuff done.. And BOY does it feel good!

What I did was quite simple: I focused on the things that really mattered (and followed my own advice), the things that ultimately lead to building long-lasting relationships and increasing conversions.

Getting more specific, I stopped worrying about all the busy work that has no real value, direct or indirect, cut down on the distractions, worked closely with the people that really care, and stuck with a better road map to success (hello, deliberate direction). It was tough but I feel so much better now – w00t!
The Fallacy Of Expertise
Everyone’s a Social Media expert, SEO specialist, Internet Marketing guru, and blah blah blah…

In response to all the self-boosting crap, I offer this great quote by Marcus Sheridan:

When we speak or when we write, we have a choice to make folks—We can try to impress ourselves or we can solely work to enlighten the audience.

Quite simply, we could be the voice of change or part of the noise.

All too often, we fall into the trap of talking big just to impress people. Specialist, strategist, or enthusiast, we’re all students in the grand scheme of things. No one is perfect and people understand that, so quit with the smoke-and-mirrors.

Let’s shift our focus from credentials and promises to the true spirit of small business: helping people and driving results with personalized, innovative solutions. I don’t care about your certifications, past companies, degrees, scores, and all that junk. That’s just more hype and spin, more money being thrown at problems.

People don’t care until they see how much you really care about people.

K.I.S.S. Strategy: Simplify your content, your message (and the call to action that comes with it), to focus on what you really believe in.. And don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know everything. For what you are unsure of, there are always others you can count on…
The Follies Of Competition
With all the analytics and benchmarks out there, it’s easy to focus on everyone else instead of yourself. Personal development develops us into real influencers and authorities, in spite of what Klout or PeerIndex may say.. Yet some of us are too busy trying to one-up everyone.

Quit that mess.

Sharing is caring and, believe me, there is enough pie to go around. If you share best practices and ideas with others, you’ll be surprised what you may learn from each other. Even better, you can trade services and support each other, building a great business relationship and maybe more.

It’s far more simple to put your network to real work. Imagine driving referrals through your competition by working together. If someone is at capacity, they know they can call on you because you’ve built a real relationship.

The Curse Of Knowledge
There are tons of smart people out there and many of them have great ideas, yet they don’t really get anything done. Instead, they employ a dangerous knowledge aimed at discrediting and disparaging, rather than helping others (more foolish competition).

Don’t be a know-it-all or elitist. That sort of attitude leads to aggressive sales tactics, unethical business practices, sloppy work, and other deplorable behaviors. Few people are attracted to that.. And the ruse only lasts so long.

Don’t be that guy.

(How’s that for a callback?)

Simply put: be more approachable by being, well, more down-to-earth. Avoid the lofty attitudes that make people go elsewhere. Put your knowledge to good use and help people so it becomes a blessing, not a curse.

The Tools Of The KISSing Trade
Here are a few more ways to keep things simple (they’ve worked for me thus far, but I could always tweak things more):

  • Streamline processes and systems to be more productive (minimize busy work).
  • Avoid excessive technical jargon (build conversations, not sermons).
  • Provide context clues and additional resources (see the above).
  • Keep communications as brief as possible, given the medium or channel, and offer next-steps for those that want more details (drip information, where appropriate).
  • Always provide some sort of actionable information to engage your audience (the elusive call to action).
  • Avoid empty, subjective words such as “best”, “highest quality”, “synergy”, “mission-critical”.. you get the idea (See item #3).
  • Think how YOU would feel if you were on the other side (empathy).
  • Review and revise, as necessary – be your own worst critic (so others won’t have to)!

As I write this, I’m looking at a bunch of new tools and communities I’m being invited to check out (like mBlast, which my buddy Dave Gallant recommended today). I’m wondering if it’s something I’ll stick with or if it’s even worth it. I want to be more productive and tweak my workflows for efficient and consistent results. If you don’t simplify, you’ll overwhelm yourself and eventually burn out. No bueno.

So now I have some thinking to do and I’m sure you do, too (neat – that rhymes)!

Anyone have some nifty productivity tips, perhaps things to simplify the mundane tasks that take us away from the stuff we really enjoy? What does your daily workflow look like? Are you happy with that?

13 thoughts on “Your Success In Simple Terms (K.I.S.S. Revisited)

  1. When you talk of these things my mind is brought to three important individuals from the banks of history. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Socrates was the mentor of Plato and Plato mentored Aristotle.

    All three, intelligent thinkers. Now when people look back into history they often miss that these three minds were separate – and probably enemies. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. They were thinkers. Great thinkers. Contemporaries, and students/teachers of one another. Isn’t it amazing to see that each brought with him a different pair of eyes – in order to look at the world around?

    I’m grateful we have examples like this. To know that we CAN still have our own thoughts and opinions, but we can also share them with humility – realize we’re all still learning, and move on.

    What I love about social media is that it’s a growing field. Nobody can honestly say their an “expert” really, because the field is still changing. You can go out and become an expert, because there’s no set way to do things. It’s all still in the process of becoming an industry.

    Great thoughts. Thank you for the discussion. LOVE it.

    • Great examples, Christian, because these three influential thinkers are often mistaken for each other for all their similarities.. Yet they had their own insights and ideas, things that are still discussed and apply in modern times. We could only hope our voices become as timeless as these big three but they did set the bar pretty high!

      I look at the word “expert” as a way of communicating quickly “I have significant experience and knowledge in this area”. Alas, some use the word too loosely. We all can’t be experts in everything. We lead in with our strengths and, if we play it smart, we use a trial period to give all involved parties a chance to see if we gel together. That’s the way to do it!

      With that take on expertise, I feel we can say, with confidence, that we specialize in certain things and have strong knowledge, maybe even authority, in certain concentrations.. Our execution will set us apart, not the knowledge, credentials, or promises thereof. That’s huge to remember, especially in trending, crowded competitive spaces like Social Media, where everyone is offering SM services in some flavor.

      I thoroughly enjoy reading competitor blogs because I know it’ll challenge my own thoughts and help me develop myself better.. It also sets up many opportunities to collaborate, including referral networking, service trades, joint projects, guest blogging, affiliate marketing, and so much more!

      Affiliate marketing is one thing I want to do more of. I want to display branded banners for my most trusted colleagues. The first step is assessing everyone’s goals, strengths, and focus.. From there, I can position myself to refer clients to similar businesses while establishing more rapport and credibility for myself. You can be selfish and selfless at the same time, I think.

      Thanks for stopping by, Christian! I’ll see you on our mastermind/work-out buddies forums. 8)

      • Selfish and selfless at the same time. Love it! It’s like a rising tide. You may all be fish of competition – but you’re all still rising. Together, you bring other people along with you.

        I’m often saddened by companies and brands that just don’t understand the value and power of helping others to succeed along with you. You bring them up – and they do the same for you when they achieve success. It’s a win/win situation for all if done right.

      • Exactly.. but I guess that means more opportunity for the rest of us, right? To be fair, I think large companies lose sight of the things that got them there because they’re not able to scale their efforts.. Or they get caught up in the hype of what “everyone else is doing”.

      • Maybe it’s a problem with “we’ve come this far” attitude also. Stuck in the ways that have brought them success.

        But we all know the famous saying is wrong – you really CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

      • Very true.. Which begs to question: where does one draw the line between systemizing for repeat success and breaking the mold to build for future success? I suppose the bigger concern is long-term sustainability… 8)

  2. Yomar,

    As I read your post, I’m struck by the thought of just plain human social kindness. In this world where we are focused on ourselves…must make more money, must get groceries, must feed children, must do laundry… etc. etc. I feel like I’m in a rat race to which there is no end.

    Due to this “busyness” we don’t just stop and smile at the person walking down the street. We don’t offer a hand to hold the door. We don’t spark a conversation in the elevator because our mind are so focus inwards.

    I think the paradigm shift is thinking outwards. Instead of thinking.. what is good for me, think what can I do to make this other person feel good. And.. in business speak.. How can I help them so that they can do better.

    Its so easy to get trapped in the WIFM. But, then we can’t be successful if our intention is the wrong place. If you only think for yourself, you only help yourself. And.. if you only help yourself.. you are NOT helping your clients.

    I define success as “because of my help, they are now better”.

    • I agree wholeheartedly, especially with your closing thoughts. The next site I launch will focus almost strictly on “how can I help you?” Simple and sweet. That’s where we’ll do more prospecting and “selling”, without being aggressive and excessively selfish.

      You’re so right about being stuck in our own heads. It happens so often.. Then we miss out on opportunities to really connect with people. It’s shame, but we’re only human, after all.

      The social web has certainly made it more natural to embrace the thinking outwards paradigm, but you can still tell who is using the tools more for self-serving purposes, while others are really trying to meet and help people. Hmmm, authenticity much?

      Certainly some food for thought.. We should Skype soon and get back on track with the work-out buddy thing. I think we’re both at the same crossroads and need to keep each other engaged!

      I know, “engage” is one of those buzz words that is becoming rather empty in itself.. But I’m for real! =oD

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