All It Takes Is A Goal

ATG 5: The Venn Diagram Of A Best-Selling Idea

February 08, 2021 Jon Acuff Season 1 Episode 5
All It Takes Is A Goal
ATG 5: The Venn Diagram Of A Best-Selling Idea
Chapters
All It Takes Is A Goal
ATG 5: The Venn Diagram Of A Best-Selling Idea
Feb 08, 2021 Season 1 Episode 5
Jon Acuff

You’ve got an idea, but is it a best-selling idea? Whether it’s a side-hustle or starting your own business, I share the three circles to apply to your goal of creating something lots of people will love.

Follow Jon on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

Referenced in this episode:
Billy Ivey on Instagram.

Order Soundtracks, Jon's newest book available wherever you find quality books!

Show Notes Transcript

You’ve got an idea, but is it a best-selling idea? Whether it’s a side-hustle or starting your own business, I share the three circles to apply to your goal of creating something lots of people will love.

Follow Jon on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

Referenced in this episode:
Billy Ivey on Instagram.

Order Soundtracks, Jon's newest book available wherever you find quality books!

Jon Acuff:

I can't explain how excited I am to have sponsors for this podcast, because that means that I get to make a lot more episodes. So, about six months ago, a friend of mine at Medi-Share reached out and said, "Hey, let's have a phone call and see if we're both cool." That's not exactly what her email said, but that was the gist. We wanted to check in and see if either one of us was working on something cool. And if it made sense to partner together. It was an awesome conversation where we kicked around a ton of ideas. And then toward the end of the call, he said, Hey, do you have anything new coming out that you'd like help with? At which point I said, as a matter of fact, I have a brand new podcast!" Fast-forward one global pandemic, and today I get to tell you about my friends at Medishare.com. Now we all know that health care costs are a challenge for most Americans. But what you may not know is that members of Medi-Share save up to 50% or more per month on their health care costs. You heard me right. Their monthly health care costs are cut in half, just by switching to Medi-Share. The typical family saves up to $500 per month. Health care was one of the things that scared me the most when I decided to start my own business and work full-time for myself. Jenny used to joke, sort of, "Hey, Jon, um, make sure you don't get hurt out of network. We can't really afford that." You know you're in trouble when your health care plan is, "Hey, just try to be extra careful when you leave Nashville." If this is the first time you're hearing about Medi-Share, here's a quick summary: It is an affordable ministry-based alternative to health insurance that allows members to share one another's medical bills, offers access to 900,000+ health care providers and has a proven 25 year track record. A quarter-century of expertise is one of those things that helps you sleep a lot better at night. They have a huge community of over 400,000 members nationwide, that is there for you when you need it the most. If you're a mom, a dad, a small business owner, a single adult, or a senior,Medi-Share has an affordable health care option that will work for your budget. Medi-Share is not insurance and their members say it's better. I agree. Now if you want to start saving hundreds of dollars per month, you need to take a look at Medi-Share. It only takes two minutes to see how much you could save. Health care can be a confusing, scary, isolating, and expensive experience. But it doesn't have to be. Check out Medi-Share today. To quickly see your savings with Medi-Share. Text JON, that's J-O-N to 474747. There's no H in Jon. I just want to point that out again. It's text J-O-N to 474747. J-O-N to 474747. And huge thank you to Medi-Share for being my very first podcast sponsor. That means the world to me. Hey, everyone, and welcome to the All it takes is a gold podcast. I'm your host Jon Acuff and I love goals. Why? Because a goal is the fastest path between where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow. And best of all, finishing a goal feels amazing. You will never forget the first time you hold a book you finish writing. You will never forget the moment you cross the finish line of a 5K race. You'll never forget when someone pays you to do something you love doing. I still remember the first time I got paid to do a public speaking gig. I was blown away. I couldn't believe that this was a thing. I thought, "Okay, I'm gonna do a lot more of this! This is awesome!" That's why restaurants have their first dollar bill framed behind the cash register. They did it! They finished! It's not that it was a ton of money. It was the "This is the first one. We did it!" I want that feeling for you. I want you to have that moment. I want to help you cross the finish line of whatever goal you care about, because the future belongs to finishers. That's why I'm doing this podcast. In today's episode, I'm going to teach you how to come up with a best-selling idea. This episode is going to be perfect for you if your goal is to have a side hustle, start a business, write a book, launch a new product at a big company, build a platform, grow your social media influence, or any type of goal that requires you to create something that lots of people love. I'd even say this simple technique I'm going to teach you would help you find a new job or change careers. It took me years to figure this out. But I think it's the kind of thing you can learn in a matter of minutes today. I wish I'd known how to do this back in 2001. That's the year I started my first blog. It was a music blog called Sweetraymond.com. And I started it with my good friend Billy Ivey. He's one of my favorite writers in the world, and will definitely be on this podcast. You might have seen his work before. He does napkin-isms on Instagram. You can check him out. He's W-R-I-V-E-Y on Instagram. So W-R-I-V-E-Y. Now this was 20 years ago that he and I started this website. This is before WordPress and before blogging was really even a thing. You had to use Dreamweaver, which is pretty clunky. And we didn't have a strategy or a business plan for the website, but you know what we did have? We had merch. I ordered t shirts and about a billion stickers for our website. I still have a ton of them in my garage. That's my favorite thing to do when I have just a, like a mild idea, just the smallest, little, faintest idea. I'm like, "I gotta get some merch. And people are gonna be wanting to wear this thing on a T shirt. I better, I better order some t shirts stat!" Our only claim to fame was that a record label sent us a CD they wanted us to listen to by a new guy that they were excited about. But you know what, we passed on it. We just didn't feel like it was for us. It was uhh...there's a guy named John Mayer. Perhaps you've, perhaps you've heard of him. In hindsight, that uhh...that was a mistake. That website didn't really go anywhere. And I eventually stopped posting. I started another blog in 2007 that no one read. I started another one in 2008. And that one went a little bit viral. It started to gain some momentum. But it was still slow-going. Fast forward to 2009, and I'm sitting in my car frustrated in the parking lot of my day job listening to Jimmy Eat World song "In The Middle." Have you heard that song "In The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World? And I'm trying to amp myself into going inside the building. I'm pretty sure that song is about a high school girl who feels isolated, but I didn't even care. That was my anthem to launch me. Do you ever have songs like that? Songs that are kind of like an anthem for you to like, run into a building? So I kept working on my side hustle. I'd get up at 5am before work, I'd blog, I'd tweet. I'd do as much as I could before the day started. And I started to get some paid speaking gigs. Which, like I said, was amazing! I'd use vacation days to fly to Oklahoma or California or really anywhere that someone would pay me money for speaking on stage. As I continued to grow my blog, I started to get attention from publishers, I was eventually able to turn my blog into a book deal. I got paid $30,000 for that book. That is unbelievable. The funny thing is that people started to ask me if I was going to quit my job. Now that I'd made it." After taxes, and my literary agents fee, I made about $13,000 on that book deal. Imagine, imagine if I won a $13,000 lottery. No one would say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, Daddy Warbucks. Now that you've got all this bread, you, you move into Mexico? Just going to retire in Cabo San Lucas? Maybe do a little sport fishing?" You can't even get into a Kia Rio for $13,000. MSRP on those, by the way is $15,850, if you're in the market. In 2013, after a dozen years working on my side hustle, I quit my job and started my own business. In order to do that, I had to get a lot better at creating best-selling ideas. Whether it was in a book, a speech, a consulting contract with a client, it didn't matter. What mattered was that I figured out a way to create something that a lot of people would like. How do I do that? I use three circles. Everything I do comes back to an incredibly simple Venn diagram. If you want to create a best-selling idea, the first thing you need is a personal passion. You need an idea that you are personally connected to, at a real level. It's really hard to get someone excited about an idea if you're not excited about it first. That was the first thing I looked for when it came time to write my latest book. I looked at hundreds of different ideas and the one I kept coming back to was overthinking. I'm I'm an overthinker. For instance, if you invited me to a new restaurant, do you know the first thing I'm going to think about? The parking. I won't to ask you about the menu. I won't ask you about the chef, the ambience, the location. First and foremost in my mind will be overthinking the parking lot. What are we, what are we looking at here? Is there a valet? Is it uh... Is it street parking? How wide is the street? Is it a narrow street, big street, cobblestone? What kind of street? Is it one of those hipster restaurants that seats 50 people and their parking lot holds three cars? Should we ride bikes? Is there a parking deck? A garage? I'll have 1,000 questions about the parking as if I've been denied entry to every restaurant I've ever tried to visit. "I'm so sorry that I missed that dinner. They wouldn't let me park. There wasn't a single space in the entire city." I'm an overthinker. That's not a topic to me. That's an obstacle I've wrestled with for 45 years. And I've learned some things. I kind of glazed over this in the intro to this story, but things dramatically shifted for me in 2008, when I discovered a way to turn my overthinking from a super problem into a superpower. I go into that in greater detail in the book. It's called Soundtracks. But first, you have to find an idea that you have a deep passion for. That's the first thing you do. Think about the best businesses you've ever experienced, or the best books you've ever read, or even the best co-worker you've ever worked with. I guarantee that there is a personal passion at play. If you're bored with the idea, why should anyone else be excited about it? The second circle you need is exactly that. You need "need." You have to make sure that other people need that idea too. Not just you. What do the people in your community really need? What are they talking about? What are they posting about? What are they complaining about? What are they excited about? There are about a million ways you can get information to discover what people need. Let's take a product as an example. If you are going to, say, start making knives, that's a pretty popular thing right now. Let's say that was your passion, you are going to get a bunch of Damascus steel, build a small forge in your backyard and start doing custom knives as a side hustle. You know what I would do? I would follow a bunch of people who are already doing that. I would find five people on Instagram who are selling the types of knives you want to make. And I would read all those comments. What are people always excited about? What do they keep asking that knife maker to create? What new products are they clamoring about? And then I'd go to Amazon and read a bunch of one star reviews from people who bought a knife and were disappointed. For instance, I found this one, it said, "The images shown in the product description are taken to make the knife look way bigger than it actually is. So don't believe the image." The images shown lowered this review by half a star. That's a serious review when the guy is telling you why each half a star got removed. The next half a star lost went to the quality of the grind on the blade. "I say grind because it was apparently sharpened on a grind wheel found in an archeological dig from the Dark Ages. The edge looks like an S. I've been sharpening knives for over 40 years by hand, it took me over an hour to get a straight edge on the straight blade that should have been the easiest grind at the factory. It also required the loss of a substantial amount of steel at the edge." And this is my favorite part of the review. "This is truckstop knife quality at about a 6 to 700% markup." I'm gonna start saying things like this, "What is this a truck stop knife? Come on get out of here!" It makes you sound like you know about knives. I know next to nothing about knives, except that every few years I think to myself, "Should I... should I learn how to throw knives?" I never do. I never do. But it's definitely one of those weird goals that I occasionally toy with. I'm by no means a knife expert. But from reading just one bad review, I've already learned a lot about what knife owners care about. What their needs are. Number one, don't make the images deceptive when you post a product, make sure that images are accurate. Number two, make sure the edge grind is high quality. Number three, price it fairly. Those are all needs, you have to make sure someone needs what you're trying to create before you create it. What I've learned over the years, is that it's a lot better to meet a need than it is to invent a need. Put that on a bumper sticker, it's better to meet a need than invent a need. It's so expensive and time consuming to try to create a need out of thin air. It's a lot better to figure out what people need, and then this is the crazy part, to offer that to them. So I had a passion for a book about overthinking. But was there a real need there? Did other people need it or was I the only one? Was I the only overthinker on the planet? So I launched a survey with Mike Peasley, PhD. He's my researcher for my books. We asked more than 10,000 people, if they struggle with overthinking and 99.5% of them said "yes." As a, as a general rule, if you ever find something that 99.5% of people identify with, you should create that product. 73% of people said overthinking made them feel inadequate and 52% of them said overthinking made them feel drained. Turns out, I wasn't the only one who needed a book about overthinking. You also don't need to be that formal with figuring out need. One of the reasons I knew there was a need for my last book Finish was that I had a lot of casual conversations with people about the topic. I wrote a book called Start a few years ago. This is gonna surprise you, it was about starting goals. And readers began to come up to me and say things like, "I liked your book Start, but starting is easy. I can start a million things tomorrow. How do I finish?" I didn't do a survey before I wrote that book. I just started to recognize that people were asking me for a new solution. People wanted to know what it takes to finish. The same goes for Soundtracks, my latest book, in addition to the survey, I had a lot of casual conversations with executives at companies that told me how wasteful overthinking was. It slows down decisions, causes confusion, and wastes time and creativity. There was a need. You can always tell when a company didn't care about need when they created something. The maddest you've ever been in a business is when they put their needs ahead of yours. It's kind of like when you call up customer service with a problem and they try to upsell you to a different product. So you're calling to say hey, your product doesn't work and they go, "What about a more expensive product? Would you like to do that?" Someone in an office looked at an Excel spreadsheet and said, "We can upsell people on these calls. It doesn't matter that they don't really need this, we can just force them on this." And it's frustrating. You can tell when somebody doesn't care about needs, so you have to. So now we've got the first two circles, we've got the passion, we've got the need. What's the final one that your idea requires? A market. You have to figure out where your idea is going to fit in the market. Is it already overcrowded? Are there 10 million options just like yours? Or is there space? Is what you want to create missing? Even if you're not writing a book or launching a product, I think you should still apply this principle. If you're looking for a new job, you'd need to understand what's going on in the market, in your industry, in your city. Does everyone else have the same exact skill set? If so, you better look for something that will make you stand out. Something different you can bring to the company. That exact situation nearly crushed me one afternoon in Atlanta. At the time, my wife and I lived in Boston, we just had our first child and we were growing desperate to return to the south. My wife is from Atlanta and gave me essentially a snow ultimatum about Massachusetts. She was over the New England winters and was like, "You know, someone is moving to Atlanta. I hope it's all of us, it'd be great if it was all of us." So I was on the job hunt. But I kept running into closed doors. So as a Hail Mary, I created the best advertising portfolio, I could come up with, handstitched this little book explaining my skills, and use what little money we had to fly to Atlanta to drive from ad agency to ad agency dropping off samples of my work. My mother-in-law, Laura, drove me around that day. Which is one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me. I didn't have contacts at most of these ad agencies and was essentially cold calling. At the end of the day, after visiting a ton of agencies, I stopped by one last one at some hipster part of Atlanta. It was a cool ad agency in what looked like a reclaimed horseshoe factory or something. This time, when I went in, the secretary, or executive assistant, actually introduced me to the creative director, he was nice enough to invite me to his office and review my portfolio while I waited there. If you've never been a copywriter, or a graphic designer, a portfolio is essentially a visual version of your resume. It's a huge book of your work only mine wasn't really huge, because I was only in my late 20s. And I hadn't really done anything in my career, yet. After a few minutes of flipping pages the creative director got quiet. "Hey, I want to show you something," he said. We got up from his office and found an empty desk that no one was sitting at yet in this big open concept workspace. He grabbed a box from under one of the desks and said, "This is the collection of portfolios that people just like you send us. Spend some time going through it to see what you're up against." It was incredibly kind for him to do. But that was also a little demoralizing because every portfolio was better than mine. I don't mean a few were, I mean every single portfolio was better than mine. Staff members that the company kept walking by and seeing this guy, like that no one knew, sitting at a desk reviewing all these portfolios with this sad look on his face. And everybody just kept walking by going like, [whispering] "Who is that guy? Like, do you think that guy's gonna cry?" I started to feel really overwhelmed. It was just a home run after home run in that box. And I felt like I brought up miniature horse to the Kentucky Derby. "Please, sir, can I, can I ride my pony in your fancy race? He doesn't look like much and my feet drag on the ground when he runs. But if I don't get a job in Atlanta, we'll never escape those Yankee winters." The more I flip through.. That was a pretty good voice, by the way. Good job, Jon. The more I flipped through, the more I realized something. Most of the portfolios looked the same. They had the same type of clients and the same type of work and the same type of writing. The reason was simple. There were two amazing advertising schools in Atlanta, one of which was actually called The Portfolio Center. I was never going to out-portfolio a place called The Portfolio Center. They were sending waves of graduates out into the Atlanta marketplace. The market was too full. If I really wanted a new job in Atlanta, I was going to need a different approach. Once I knew that I could focus on something different. Instead of trying to just create the most amazing portfolio, I started focusing on headhunters and relationships, which is how I found my job at the Home Depot headquarters. Is the market full? The thing you're trying to do right now, is the market full? Or is there some space? That's the question I asked when I started working on my last book Finish. When I went to Amazon and searched the word "finish", do you know what came up first? Pages and pages and pages of dishwasher detergent. There weren't many people talking about finishing goals. There are a lot of people talking about starting them. But the finish market was pretty empty. To this day, my book is the only book that comes up in the first page results on Amazon when you search the word "finish." The caveat I'd say to the market angle is that you shouldn't quit just because you run into a lot of competitors. Don't give up just because there are a lot of people in the market. Get creative before you quit. When I researched the topic of overthinking, I realized there are a lot more books about that subject than there were about finishing goals. There are pages and pages of results about that on Amazon. The market appeared full, which meant I needed to figure out if I had something to offer that wasn't being offered yet. I studied the other books and I realized a few things. Number one, a lot of them are written from a "stop overthinking" perspective. Number two, a lot of them aren't funny at all. Number three, a lot of them don't have practical steps or research. There are some great options out there. Don't get me wrong, Jenny Allen's excellent Get Out of Your Head is one that immediately comes to mind. That book has helped so many people. She's an amazing writer. But I realized, "Okay, I'm going to need to get creative to create something fresh." So I decided that my book Soundtracks would be written from the perspective of turning overthinking from a super problem into a superpower. It wouldn't be about stopping overthinking Why would I ever turn off this amazing thinking machine that I'd spent years honing? Would it be better to just find positive things to feed it with instead of negative things? Like, imagine if I just ran it with a better fuel? To make it, in essence, something that actually helped me? Could I make my overthinking work for me versus against me? I also decided that my book would be hilarious. I learned that lesson years ago with public speaking. There are so many serious business speakers, but that's not who I am. And I subscribe to the Chris Rock theory that there are some things people won't listen to, unless they are laughing at the same time. I was going to take a funny look at overthinking. Finally, I decided that my book would be chock full of actions and research. I wasn't just going to say, "Hey, here are a few things that I, that I hope might work." I was going to say, Mike Peasley, PhD and I tested these specific ideas and actions with 1000s of people. Here's what worked. So don't get discouraged if you check the market and you feel like your idea has already been done a million times before. Take that as an invitation to creativity, not a call to quit. If this was a visual, I would draw those three circles as a Venn diagram for you. Because the center is where you'll find a best selling product. Passion, need, and market. You need all three. What happens if you, if you only have two? Okay, let's pretend you find a passion. There's something you're really excited about. Then you find a need. It seems that people in your audience actually need this thing. Wow, you've got need and passion but then you go check the market and it's already oversaturated. Like there's not even a way for you to get more creative. Do you know what you have, then? You don't have a best selling idea. You have a cake pop. If you told me today, like today, if you said, "Jon I got this crazy idea. I'm going to open up a store that sells cake pops. They're like miniature cakes. But here's the twist, here's the twist! They're on a stick! Whole bakery's just going to make cake pops. Going to name it 'What's Poppin?'" If you told me that, I'd tell you, "I love I love that idea. Love your passion. It's just um... How do I say this? You're 10 years too late." We already have cake pops. By the time an item is mass produced and in a Starbucks, you're too late. The market is too full. But if you have passion, and you study the market, and you realize, "Oh, no one is serving this exact thing." Like the market has space but then you discover no one needs it. What you have, once you have passion and a market, but no need, is you have a hobby. And hobbies are awesome. I love hobbies. But if you said "Jon, I'm going to start making sweaters for albino ferrets in the low country of South Carolina. And no one, no one in the market is doing that right now. I'd say, "That's, that's true. No one is currently serving the albino ferret community in South Carolina. But that's, that's really only because there isn't one. That need doesn't exist". You have a hobby, and you should 100% keep making as many sweaters as you can for albino ferrets, don't get me wrong, but you don't have a best-selling idea, you have a hobby. Make as many sweaters as you want, just don't confuse that hobby with a best-selling idea. Last combo, what if, what if you identify a need, and you find a huge hole in the market, but you, you don't have any passion? You're not passionately connected to this idea. That's called a day job. You might make some money because there is a need. You might be somewhat successful because there is a market. But it won't be any fun. And you're likely to quit before it really builds momentum because your heart just isn't in it. Best-selling ideas always have some element of all three of those things. Someone is passionately connected to the idea. Someone needs the idea, and the market is ready for the idea. The next time you sit down to apply for a job, launch a product, give a speech, write a book, or create anything that you want to be successful. Start with those three circles. And if you ever find yourself tempted to overthink anything in your life, check out my new book Soundtracks, you can preorder a copy in the show notes. Thanks for listening today. If you liked this episode, please review it and subscribe so that you don't miss any more. See you next week. And remember, all it takes is a goal. This episode of the podcast was brought to you by Medi-Share. Text JON, J-O-N to 47474 for more information. Huge thank you to Medi-Share for sponsoring it. J-O-N to 474747.

Producer:

Thanks for listening. To learn more about the All It Takes Is A Goal podcast and to get access to today's show notes, transcript, and exclusive content from Jon Acuff, visit Acuff.me/podcast. Thanks again for joining us. Be sure to tune in next week for another episode of the All It Takes Is A Goal podcast.