Explorations in Business - Part 3 of ?

This is my third time trying to write this article in the last two weeks.

Here was my last attempt.

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I always wanted to have an interesting life, and I do.

I have done the classics like mountain climbing, skydiving, alligator wrestling, whitewater rafting, running with bulls, scuba diving, ice luging, road tripping, etc. I officiated my second wedding this weekend, I just arranged to borrow the staffs, swords, and dueling pistols for one of my four speeches at the Harry Potter festival in Sparta, Michigan this summer, I'm writing notes for the comic book I'm working on, and the philosophy papers I'm working on, and the fictional tales I'm working on, and I'm editing horror stories for the "Horror Without Borders" anthology for the Russian publisher I'm working with. All of that just starts to hit on the interesting things I've done, but I have a bit of a problem.

Since I've focused so much on doing interesting things that almost all of the values I've fulfilled in life have been experiential values, and that's become a strong habit now. What my life is mostly missing is the productive side of the equation, the creative values. Obviously I've started to change that, that's what the writing is about and that's what starting the business is about. But, the transition is not smooth. Rewiring the brain is not easy or fast. In a general sense you could say I have developed the skill of consuming life, but not the skill of producing life.

remuneration, just and unjust society, catallactics and cratics

Two weeks ago I put the MeditateWithJeff.com website up. I posted it to a number of groups about pain and meditation. Only the pain groups make sense. I had a few people go to the site. I didn't accurately track it because I just used the cheapest version of Weebly. But, 11 people watched the video I had on the site. It was a Youtube link, so some might have come from there, but I set it up so that you would probably only get to the video through the website. But, only three people filled in any part of the survey section that I had set up. Out of that only one person filled in the contact information.

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Normally when I start writing an article I just grind on it until it's done, I go through it once for editing, and I hit publish. I had to stop on this article because I had a chiropractic appointment, and when I got back the words just weren't coming out anymore.

To finish the idea that I started in that aborted article, I sent an email to Wendy saying that I would like to talk about what she thought of what I was doing with meditatewithjeff.com and how I could make it the most helpful for her. Let me look up the actual email because maybe my communication is just bad, but she never responded. Here's the email.

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Hi, I appreciate you filling out the info on my site. If it's possible I would like to get on a video conference with you this week. The survey questions are great, but more can be learned when you're really talking to someone. Is there a time on Wednesday that would work?

Jeff Martin

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Apparently I need to get better at writing those. One of the other people that responded to the survey questions said that they really wanted me to reach out to them so that we could talk, but they didn't give me any contact information.

I had planned to have at least one conversation before doing anything else. When that one conversation never happened I just didn't do anything else. It's kind of pathetic, a complete lack of initiative. It saddens me to observe this in myself. So, we will dive deep and fast into what's wrong with my psychology and how I might fix it, then I will jump into a bunch of business decisions that I need to work out.

Here's the problem, when I had my misadventure in Africa a few years ago it was a bit traumatic. It was definitely dramatic. I've been traumatized before and it took me years to learn how to fix that, but I did. Now that I have that knowledge it's not too hard to use it again. Trauma isn't really an issue for me anymore. The issue came after the event itself.

Over the next couple of years my ability to do anything was hammered into the ground. I lost my physical abilities to the point of not being able to walk across the street to get the mail without having to take multiple breaks to lean on cars and catch my breath. I lost my short term ability to the point where I could only repeat back three numbers at a time, the average is about 7 or 8, and with the collapes of my short term memory down went my IQ too. Losing long term memories was the scariest part. It's trippy to realize that you've forgotten things you used to know, because you're not sure what else you've forgotten and you have no way of founding out. It feels like your life is being erased. Without these abilities you can't really do anything in life. One failure can be recovered from, two failures can be ignored, three failures can be overcome, you can convince yourself to keep trying after four failures. Eventually though, eventually it wears you down.

Those couple of years wore me down. I'm not sure how many years they took off my lifespan, it was not insignificant. But the detrimental thing that happened is that it erased my idea of my future self. It was hard realizing that I was no longer how I defined myself. I used to think of myself as an intelligent adventurer. I could no longer call myself either of those things. That's bad. It's worse to realize that you don't really have any reason to make plans for the future. If you can't do anything and you're losing your memory then your future is short, there's just no reason to construct an idea of a future self.

When I think of myself in the future I think of nothing. I don't see myself in the future. I see the future as being without me. That's no longer the case at this point. My health is doing pretty well. I joined the high IQ society Mensa after having brain damage. I should have ideas about my future because I have a future, there's just been a lag in my mind building that future self again.

I noticed this problem sometime in the last two years, this not being able to think of myself in the future outside of the next couple of months. And that's a problem, because it's a problem that I haven't been able to address. I've been working on it. I've been writing out goals, ideas, and plans. I have a ton of plans for writing projects. I've developed a value chart based on an expansion I made to the work done by psychologist Viktor Frankl. I've used a technique adapted from psychologist Carl Jung to incorporate dissociated parts of my personality that have shown up in various dreams and such. These things have helped. They've changed my personality to some extent, but not enough.

Which brings me to what I need to do. This is what I think has the best chance of causing a significant personality change in a positive direction, but it's uncomfortable just thinking about it. That's often a good sign that you're on the right path. The psychologist Jordan Peterson talks about how the Soviet writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn did it when he was in the gulags. You need to figure out every major mistake you've made in your life. You need to look at every major thing that has gone wrong, why and how it went wrong, what you could have done differently, and what you should have done.

The reason that we have memories is so that we can do better at living in the future. I do not see myself as doing better at living in the future. I want to. I think that it's logical that I could, but it feels inauthentic. So it's reasonable to think that I have ineffectively adjusted to my surroundings because I made the wrong choices about how to perceive and act in the world. If I could process those decisions and make better ones then it's reasonable to think that I would change my ability to live.

It only makes sense to do this in writing because writing is thought that you can refine. So, that is an uncomfortable process that I will soon start on my blog at JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com, JeffThinks.com, and/or Jeff.Irish. I am logically looking forward to it, emotionally I am not.

Now, back to the business. The FounderCo meeting in Holland went well today. It was focused on marketing. I am a step behind that, still trying to find the product-market fit. Or, more traditionally labeled as market research and product development. Or, more honestly labeled as trying to figure out what the heck I'm selling and who I'm selling it to.

My idea in one sentence is something like this: I help people with chronic pain use meditation to change their perception of that pain so that they can live and function better. Every time I say it, it comes out a little differently.

The mentor I sat down with today was also a Jeff. There are a lot of us. Jeff was throwing ideas at me off the cuff after I started him down the path of my idea and explained where I was in the process. Here's his basic perspective. What I need to do is get clear about my customer persona. Then I need to find out what makes my solution different and position my company in that way. I could kill my business right at the start with pricing so I should talk to a number of potential customers to try to feel that out. I should know more about my competitors. I need to work on getting strategic referral partners. I should develop some cheap lead products that will help people to trust me so that they will buy more expensive programs. I also need to find some credibility.

That's all pretty good stuff. Things I have to think about. Hard problems.

My discussion group was interesting. It's a valuable part of the meeting. Liz asked me what my gimmick was after I told her the basic idea of MeditateWithJeff.com. I was a bit confused by that and said that the closest thing to a gimmick that I have is my personal story. It took several minutes to tell, but it seemed to connect with people. In person I connect well, especially when telling stories. It's all of that practice in Toastmasters meetings. I think the story can be my credibility and eliminate the need for any kind of gimmick. I hope so because otherwise I don't have credibility and I don't like gimmicks.

For the last part of the meeting I talked with Hailey about literature. It was great. I have a lot of good conversations with a lot of interesting people, but that was the most engaging one for me in the last few weeks. It's funny because I came away from that discussion feeling enlivened, and knowing a few things of note about Hailey. But, she now knows quite a lot about me for such a short discussion. She has the skill of listening in spades. I didn't fully realize that until I was walking away. A great skill to have.

So, business decisions. Let's see what I can work out here. Here's another version of my one sentence that I wrote down: I help people in chronic pain learn to perceive that pain in a new and more manageable way.

That sounds pretty good. One issue is that this isn't completely true. It's a statement that might be true in the future if things go well. Eric Weinstein is the capital investment manager for billionaire Peter Thiel. He talks about what success takes. It's about crossing an adaptive valley. Imagine you're on a hill in one spot. You can't go any higher. But, you can see a mountain. Now, to get to that mountain you not only have to climb, you also have to go down this hill and across the valley. When you start you're not even sure you can do it. You say you can do it, and then we find out if you really can when you try. That's what that statement is, it's on the other side of the adaptive valley.

One thing I think I am making progress on is describing what the problem with chronic pain is and how that might change. It's been getting better verbally as I've talked with people about it. The basic idea is that the pain takes up all of your awareness. You can't focus on anything else, you can't think of anything else. It's like one of the warning lights coming on in your car. Maybe you need an oil change. But, instead of just having a light come on, there's a siren with flashing lights right in the middle of your car. You cover your ears, but now you've let go of the steering wheel. You have to grab on again. The lights are flashing in your eyes and you can't think with all of the sound. That's what intense chronic pain is like, it takes over your entire awareness.

We're not trying to turn off the warning light. Actually, we want the warning light on. Today at the business meeting Liz asked me if I have made myself impervious to other types of pain. I have not. And, I don't want to. I still want to be aware of the pain in my neck and head. The pain is there for a reason. It's important to be able to feel it to be aware of things getting better or worse. If I do something that throws my spine too far out of place I will start to get cognitive issues in just a few days in a small way. If I went a few weeks without a chiropractic adjustment in that situation I would start to have fairly severe memory issues again. I need to know if there's an issue, I need to be aware of the warning signal.

All I want to do is turn off the flashing lights and siren. I don't need those. I know there's an important problem and I'm doing my best to fix the situation. But I can't fully fix it. I will remain aware of it and monitor it, but I need to be able to function in life. I need to be able to do things. So I need to turn off those lights and siren, and that's what I do with my meditation technique.

A business consultant at the meeting asked me how often I meditate. I think my answer surprised him. I'm inconsistent. I meditate here and there. I've found that to manage the pain I probably need to meditate every few weeks. I think the longest I've gone without meditating was two months and still managed it fairly well. A lot of people meditate to stay calm and focused. I think that for that thing then daily practice is probably important, but it's completely different for chronic pain management. The need fluctuates based on what's happening in your life.

I think a key part of my customer persona is that they are committed. I think that this will often go with desperation in the case of chronic pain. That's unfortunate, but it's the reality. I've been there. And that's the point, to help them. I think this contradicts the idea of having cheap products and services. Then people can just "try it out." Well, that's not going to work. If you just play with this what's going to happen is that it's going to be uncomfortable and then you're going to quit. I'm fairly tough. I broke my collarbone in football practice when I was 13. I didn't even take a break. I kept practicing. I didn't go to the doctor. I didn't miss a practice. I didn't miss a game. I had issues holding my arm up. I couldn't get in my stance on that hand and had to rest it across my thigh. It was harder to hold onto the ball. It hurt like hell. I was stupid. But I played the whole second half of the season with that collarbone healing on its own. So, I think I can say that I'm fairly tough, but I almost quit using this meditation technique for the pain issues in my spine. It's not easy.

I think that's why I might go against almost everyone's advice and not do a cheap product. The people that I'll have have tried other things and they didn't work, they've been waiting for the pain to go away and it hasn't, they're desperate and committed, and willing to take a plunge and see what happens. Maybe I could have a video that essentially lays out how to do everything. Maybe I sell this for... I have no idea. Let's say 200 dollars? Then, if you want to really dive in you can join the group. The first month is 500 dollars and includes three private sessions. The normal monthly fee after that is 100 dollars a month and we do a weekly live call. I'm not sure that makes sense.

I think I need to engage local pain groups, but I kind of want to go to them with something. I need to reach out to people with lists, but I want to have something before I do that too. Maybe I could reach out to these people before I have anything and say what I'm trying to do. That might work. Maybe I could just write my story and reach out with that.

I will probably incorporate some mention of pain in a speech I give this month. Not a specific focus on this, but hitting on it somewhat. That will continue my development of articulating this subject.

I think that maybe I should just be trying to arrange calls with potential customers rather than any type of survey.

I should develop a FAQ section. I think that might help me to figure out what people will be confused or unsure about and address it. I got that idea from the meeting two weeks ago. There were a lot of people that do marketing and advertising for a living at that meeting. It was interesting to hear their ideas about how I should structure my products. There's a bit of consensus that I should sell something cheap, but I see problems on that path. Matt mentioned that he got some business advice before which was to do the opposite of what people say. I pointed out that the problem with that is that the advice isn't really consistent, so what should I do the opposite of if the opposite of one suggestion is just another suggestion from someone else. How do you decide who to be contradictory to? I joked that maybe I should do nothing because no one had proposed that so it would be the opposite of everyone. Unfortunately, that is closest to what I've done over the past two weeks.

Here's a similar problem. This is my list of favorite business books.

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Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way by Jim Lundy
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone
The Knack of Selling Yourself by James Mangan
Good Profit by Charles Koch
Magnetic Sponsoring by Mike Dillard
The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki
The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure by John Allison
The Millionaire Messenger by Brendon Burchard
How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger
Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz
Principles by Ray Dalio
Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins
How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban
My Life and the Principles for Success by Ross Perot
Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham
How Power Selling Brought Me Success in Six Hours by Pierce Brooks
Straight Line Persuasion by Jordan Belfort
The Millionaire Fastlane by M J DeMarco
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Not Fade Away by Peter Barton
Dare to Succeed by Mark Burnett
Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson

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The problem is that there is a lot of contradictory advice in there. I remember Grant Cardone talking about how you could have success following his advice or the advice of Dave Ramsey, but not both.

I think that I might be thinking too low on the price. I feel weird with high price things because I've had little interaction with high price things, but it's useful because my margins would be high enough to be able to afford advertising, and then my fate would be in my own hands.

Let's try to think in some unusual ways. I often do that on accident anyway.

The three major objections that you usually have to address for most products are: not enough time, not enough money, won't work for me.

Can I answer any of these in odd ways?

"I don't have enough time."

"You're right. If it's not a priority in your life then you don't have the type of issue that I address."

"I don't have enough money."

(I feel for these people, I really do, because I have been in this situation my entire life.)

"You're right. If you can't find the money for this then it hasn't become a high enough priority for you."

(I don't feel good about that one. What if I had some sort of scholarship program? Maybe.)

"This won't work for me."

"You're right. The number one predictor of success is the number of times you're willing to try. It won't work for someone that won't try, and try again."

That's an interesting line of thought. I was having trouble thinking about who my customer persona should be, and when I was looking through "Positioning" they mentioned that you could figure out who shouldn't use your product. I immediately thought of people that are "just interested." The people that are just dabbling won't find success with my technique. Having a lot of those customers just means that I would have a high failure rate. So, what about just eliminating them?

I'm still having trouble figuring out what my product offer should really be. I started with the idea of a few personal sessions and then daily group calls. Now I'm thinking weekly calls that will be recorded and available because how many people are going to show up if I have these calls daily? I don't know, but I think it might be low. Maybe I should have a cheaper video on the front end.

What if I just did personal consultations at high prices and then worried about scaling and such later? I don't know.

I do think that I have a decent schedule worked out for a group call.

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Short version of my story
Why we do this, what works, what doesn't
How we do this
Awareness games
Good session example
Non-satisfactory session example
Good session example

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And I've found this marketing format that I like.

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Who it's for
Why their current method won't solve their problem
How I discovered what works
How to get it

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Some version of a combination of those things might work well for a webinar.

It's late. I'm tired. I have to teach in a few hours. I will have to think on this more tomorrow.


You can find more of what I'm doing at http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com


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