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Understanding the Facebook Algorithm for marketers (2020)

It seems that after the whole Cambridge Analytica situation Facebook is starting to be more transparent in regards to how their algorithm works. Which is good for both the users of the platform and all of us marketers. The better we understand how the algorithm works the better we can create ads that resonate with our intended audience.

Facebook’s goal is to make ads as relevant as possible to their users. As much as some users don’t like seeing ads, they would rather see ads that are relevant to them than ones that aren’t. So let’s dig into the 3 big fundamentals that play into who sees what on Facebook.

1. Bidding

There are several different optimization options for Facebook ads, you can do landing page views, engagement, conversions, etc. The one that I’ve consistently found to provide the best ROI is conversions. (Shocking, I know…) So this bidding info is specifically for Conversion Optimized campaigns.

Bidding options: You can do auto-bid (what FB calls Lowest Cost), Target Cost, or Max Bid (what they now call Lowest Cost w/bid cap).

a. Auto Bid/Lowest Cost Bidding: really allows you to leverage Facebook’s algorithm. This bidding style will come shooting out of the gate targeting those in your audience that the algo thinks will buy for the cheapest rate. This is why you may notice when you launch campaigns that they will often times perform really well in the beginning then fall off after a couple of days. This is because the audience exhausted itself of the low hanging fruit and is now focusing on people that aren’t as likely to buy. This is why duplicating an ad after a few days will often give you good results again after the original stopped working.

Summary – Auto Bid/Lowest Cost bidding is still the best option.

b. Target Cost Bidding: in this strategy, you can tell FB that you want to have a CPA of $20. What they do is take out all of the people that they think will be significantly higher than $20 and significantly lower than $20. This causes your impressions to be SUPER low and your ads won’t go after the lowing hanging fruit because you told the algo “No I don’t want those people.” I know, it sounds silly that it would do that, but the word on the street is that it does. After testing out this method on various campaigns I’ve noticed that indeed impressions are way lower than campaigns that are using Lowest Cost bidding. Conversions are also really hit or miss with Target Cost campaigns. I wouldn’t do them again until someone says they algo changed.

Summary – don’t use Target Cost bidding.

c. Max Bid/Lowest Cost with Bid Cap: this bid strategy is somewhat useful if you’re on a budget. It tells FB “Hey go after the low hanging fruit, but I don’t want to spend more than X to get a customer” which is good. What this does though, is it limits your impressions after a certain point because someone that is using Auto Bid/Lowest Cost bidding without a bid cap is outbidding you for impressions.

Summary – Max Bid/Lowest Cost with a bid cap is great for those on a budget. Your ads won’t scale as much as those without a bid cap but this gives you a good chance at being profitable.

Bidding Summary – Your best bet to create scalable campaigns is to just let Facebook’s algorithm work and use Auto Bid/Lowest Cost (the default bid). This allows you to continue to win the bidding auctions which makes your ads keep showing up. To extend the shelf life of your ads start using FB’s dynamic creative function. This will show ads to the people Facebook thinks are most likely to buy from you more often as the creative will keep switching dynamically.

2. Estimated Action Rate

The 2nd big part of the algo is the estimated action rate. Things that play into it:

  • Recent ad activity
    • What type of people clicked, engaged, purchased in the past
  • Page activity – how healthy and active is the page? Does it benefit FB/IG users?
    • Is the page actively posting
    • Age of the page
    • Does the page get a lot of engagement with their posts
    • Does the page reply to comments quickly
    • Has the page been hacked recently? (If so, you’ll have higher CPMs for a bit)

Your past ad activity plays a big role in who your ads show up too – the more purchases and webstie events the FB pixel sees the better. Your organic page itself also plays a big role, so the more active and healthy your page is the lower your advertising costs will be. Facebook is about giving users the best experience possible so if you’re adding to that experience they will reward you.

3. User Value

Facebook has recently said that they have an Ad Quality Panel. This is a 3rd party, outside of Facebook, that looks at and reviews ads giving them a score. These people aren’t digital marketers, they are actual users of the platform giving out the grades. Think of people in there 30’s – 50’s that aren’t too tech savvy. So it is really important that when you make an ad you look at it and ask yourself if you truly think the campaign is going to resonate, will your audience actually be interested in what you’re promoting? Make ads that resonate and you will get a higher grade which means more impressions at a cheaper rate, giving you better performance.

Another thing the algorithm looks at now is the post-click experience. The biggest factor I was told was the bounce rate, if someone clicks your ad, gets to your landing page and instantly leaves your website Facebook is going start docking you impressions (and most likely raise your CPM) because it thinks by users doing this the page you are sending them too isn’t relevant. This means, now more than ever, it’s time to have a good site experience that makes people want to stay, click around, and eventually make a purchase. As marketers, we often care so much about the creative, copy, and targeting we use in ads that we push our site experience off to the side. Our ads could be perfect (creative, targeting, copy) but if we’re sending them to a shit landing page we’re gonna be wasting money. This was true in the past but now we know Facebook is taking notice, so if your landing pages suck, fix them.

Summary

Optimize your ads for conversions (unless you don’t get many sales, then landing page views) and use the default Auto Bid/Lowest cost bidding without a bid cap. You can use a bid cap if you’re on a budget. Never use Target Cost bidding, unless you’re a fearless bastard that likes to gamble. Constantly be creating new ads and use the dynamic creative feature. Keep your organic pages active and engaging, respond to customer comments; give people a good experience and Facebook will reward you for it with better ad performance (lower CPM’s). After every ad you make ask yourself “Will this actually resonate with my intended audience? Is this something they’ll want to see?” If not, make a new ad. Also, make sure your landing pages are good and people don’t bounce/leave right away. The longer they stay on your site and the more they engage with it the better you’ll look to Facebook. That’s what I know about the algorithm from the horses mouth. If you know anything else that I should add let me know!

Cheers,

Jacob

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Science of Persuasion

A useful video by Robert Cialdini on the Science of Persuasion:

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Digital Marketing Uncategorized

People Act on Emotion and Justify with Logic

The human brain is separated into 2 parts – left and right; Logical and emotional.

Think of all of the actions that can be caused by love or fear, happiness or sadness, typically against ones better judgement. As a marketer you can convert on this while giving a person a logical reason to take an action. (i.e. make them feel an emotion then give them a logical incentive to take action right now.) This is how you need to craft your campaigns – make people feel something in their hearts then convert that emotion into intent to buy with logic.

 

 

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Digital Marketing Uncategorized

6 Tips to Increase the ROI of your email campaigns

Email marketing campaigns have become synonymous with digital marketing success over the past 10 years. Though, recently it has been talked about less and less as the rise of social media marketing along with SEM has stolen the spotlight away from it. Is this justified? Well, the new kids on the block may be getting all of the attention, though it is email that is still the undisputed champion (statistically) of the digital marketing world!

Picture- ROI of marketing by channel per $1 spenthttp://blog.fusionfarm.com/blog/email-marketing-for-business-is-not-dead-find-out-why

As important as email marketing is for digital marketers, many simply miss the mark and never reach the full potential ROI of their marketing campaigns. Building an effective email campaign is an imperfect science. One will always need to take into account the subscriber’s receiving the mail, the ISP they are sending to and the message they are sending. With so many factors coming into play email marketing can get tricky.

Being able to step back and understand the message that you are delivering from the end users point of view is of the utmost importance. You will soon realize that blasting out self-promotional messages is going to do nothing but hurt your reputation over the long run. All of the short term profits from constant promotion will pale in comparison to the possible long term revenue you could bring in by providing useful information to the end user consistently. Providing useful, relevant and consistent messages to your subscriber’s is the key to the long term profits.

Here are 6 key areas that you need to focus on to increase the ROI of your email efforts-

1.The Message
Imagine if you were looking into buying a magazine, you would not choose the one that is all advertisements, would you? No, you wouldn’t. So why would you try to email out your messages with constant sales requests without providing them any value of being on your list. You need to make yourself the industry expert in your field and gain the trust of your subscribers; this is something that you cannot attain by blasting out’ buy now’ messages every day. Provide them value and they will become a valuable customer of yours.

2.The Call to action
The advice to “always ask them” has been turned into a heroic-sounding marketing term called the call to action as if trumpets were sounding and prospects were marching off to war just because you inserted a couple of words at the end of your copy.
The term might sound a little old fashioned. But the simple fact is, once you’ve gained your reader’s attention and presented all the benefits they will get by taking the action you want, you still have one more hoop to jump through.You need to tell your reader exactly what to do, how to do it, and that you want them to do it right now!

3.Staying Top of Mind
Engagement is your goal and top-of-mind awareness is your reward. It’s important to remember that engagement is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. The real value derived from engaging your subscriber base between transactions is maintaining top-of-mind awareness for your brand. This is a phrase often used to support ongoing advertising campaigns.

The marketer wants his brand of soup to be the first one that a shopper thinks of when browsing the soup aisle at the grocery store. While the Soup company won’t get many if any online conversions for their soup, next time the shopper goes down the aisle they’ll be more likely to pick a can up when they see it because they engaged with them recently.

Email marketing may not be the best converting ads for a soup marketer (techncally since there isn’t much of a direct return per se), but it has real value for something like a hotel chain. A subscriber might only travel for leisure a couple of times a year, but if she regularly engages with emails from Wyndham hotels — even if it’s no more than noticing an email in the inbox — she’s more likely to check Wyndham’s website for rooms and prices when it’s time to travel.

4.Force an answer, Present a Deadline
A deadline forces action. There are plenty of mental justifications you can give yourself for not doing something, especially if there is no compelling reason to decide right now. When you force a decision with a deadline, people have to do something; it’s either a yes or a no. It’s just like eating out at a restaurant when you can’t decide what to order and you need the pressure of a waitress standing over your shoulder waiting to take your order to force you into a decision.
A deadline is a form of scarcity, similar to producing a limited quantity of stock or taking a certain number of members into a membership site. This creates exclusivity, a perception that your customers are part of something unique that only a privileged few get access to (which is true). You have to act fast in order to ensure you are one of the “lucky ones.”

5.Test, test, test

Like most things in life, learning how to run effective email campaigns for your list takes time. You have to constantly be testing out different subject lines, post lengths, the time you send out the campaign, how you segment your list, etc… You will consistently need to test and assess what you are doing to maximize the ROI of your campaigns.

A good way to find out what works out best for your audience is to run an A/B test. An A/B test is a way to test out 2 different email messages to figure out what your list truly likes to engage with. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when running an email A/B test:
• Always test simultaneously to reduce the chance your results will be skewed by time-based factors.
• Test as large a sample as you can for more accurate results.
• Listen the empirical data collected, not your gut instinct.
• Use the tools available to you for quicker and easier A/B testing.
• Test early and test often for the best results.
• Only test one variable at a time for best results. (If you want to test more than one, look into multivariate testing instead of A/B testing.)

6.Improving your Email Deliverability-

What good would the best email marketing campaigns be if no one received the message you so meticulously typed up? That is like having the best car in the world ready for race day and not having any fuel, you don’t stand a chance. This is why improving your deliverability is paramount to your campaigns success.

Here are 7 tips to increase the likelihood of your email reaching the inbox-

• Warm up your IP
Gone are the days where you can upload your list into an ESP right away and start blasting out emails. You are going to need to warm up your sending IP. What this means is that you slowly add in subscribers from your list, maybe only send to 20% of your subscribers on your first send then slowly add the rest to your mailing list.

• Check your sender reputation and score
Not knowing your sender score as an email marketer is a lot like not knowing your credit score when you are looking to buy a new car or a house. This important number can tell you what percentage your emails are making it to the inbox and what percentage is instantly going to the spam folder.

• Check and Monitor feedback loops
By monitoring your emails feedback loops you can understand which customers are marking your messages as spam and change your sending habits to these people as the more the mark you as spam the lower your sender score will be.

• Stick to a consistent send schedule
The ISP god’s frown upon those that send out 4 mass emails in a week then wait a month to send out another. In their eyes it makes you appear as a spammer so stick to email out your messages on a consistent basis.

• Engage your customers with relevant content
Engagement is king in terms of deliverability. The more you can get your subscribers to actively open, click and respond to your messages the better your email deliverability will be.

• Ask for permission
Email only to subscribers that have actively subscribed to your email list, they know you and why you are sending to them therefore are more than happy to engage with your messages while not seeing your mail as spam.

Scrub your list
You should remove bounces from your list before you mail to them. The higher the percentage of bounces your list has the more you will tarnish your IP reputation, removing bounces before you send them is a must if you want to make it to your subscribers inbox.

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Setting up your Facebook Ads Manager

Often times when I talk with someone that is new to using Facebook ads they have their accounts columns set up incorrectly. Well, maybe not incorrectly, but they’re simply using the default “Performance” columns that are standard. In this video, I talk over why you shouldn’t use those columns and what columns you should be using.

 

If you’re looking for some help feel free to reach out – let us know what business you are looking for help with.

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Cialdinism Digital Marketing Food for thought Uncategorized

Cialdinism #2 – The Rule of Reciprocation

This rule comes from Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence. The Rule of Reciprocation says that we should try to repay those who have provided us with something. This can be utilized to persuade someone into doing an act by giving them an item or gift. If someone sends us a birthday present, we should be sure to send them one back. If someone offers you tickets to the game, you should repay them somehow – buy them some beers will ya!

When someone gives you something, that is actually worth value to you (weather monetarily or emotionally), and you don’t pay them back you get this weird feeling in your gut. This feeling is caused by the Rule of Reciprocation. I first hand felt this feeling last week when I was down in Cabo. My wife and I were walking around the Marina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico when we stopped to check out the sea lions and seagulls that were by the boat ramp. After standing there for a few seconds one of the fisherman called us over and offered to us a few fish to feed the wild sea lion that was begging at the edge of the water, of course my wife jumped at the opportunity! She was able to feed him and pet him a couple times. We even got to witness the sea lion chase off a seagull that was trying to snatch the fish from my wives hand before she could give it to the sea lion. It was great!

Right after she got done feeding the sea lion we left… and I got this weird feeling in my stomach. It felt like I owed that guy something, he was probably expecting money, but I didn’t have any cash with me. I thought for the next several days on my trip about going back to the marina to pay him, but I never pulled myself to doing so because around that same time I read about this rule. It caused me to realize what that guy had done, he had created a highly profitable niche business in the harbors of Cabo. He was also utilizing a highly effective psychological tool to get people to willingly and happily give him money. A fish for him can’t cost much at all, he is a fisherman after all. It may have cost him $.20 for the 2 little fish he gave my wife, if I had cash I would have easily have given him $10 for the wonderful experience- those are damn good margins mi amigo!

Pay every debt, as if God wrote the bill. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So anyways, the idea is to give your customers something for free so that they can return the favor to you in a way that makes sense for your business. I didn’t know about this rule when we did it, but we used it for one of our apparel brands a few months ago by giving away free shirts to our top 50 customers over the past year and the experiment has worked stunningly. Many of the customers we sent free shirts too ordered new shirts soon after.

Takeaway: Find a way for your business to use the Rule of Reciprocation to your advantage, weather it be sending your customers something for free unexpectedly or giving someone at the harbor a fun experience that costs you pretty much nothing. It will be worth it.

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Cialdinism Digital Marketing Uncategorized

Cialdinism #1

Recently I’ve really been getting into Robert Cialdini thanks to Andrew, over at Mixergy. So I’ve decided to start doing “Cialdini-isms” because I’ve really come to enjoy his insights. You can learn more about Mr. Cialdini here if you’re interested.

Cialdinism #1 – Fixed-Action Patterns

So a fixed-action pattern is an automatic response to a certain stimuli causing an instinctual/automatic action/response. He gives the example of a mother turkey based on ethology, the study of animals in their natural settings. Mother turkeys are good mother’s, they take good care of their young chicks but it is when they take care of their chicks which shows their fixed-action pattern. The mother does notice their young’s’ smell, touch, and appearance, but the biggest thing that gets the mothers to care for their young is the “cheep-cheep” noise that they make. This is the main thing these mothers focus on. If their chicks aren’t making that noise they don’t take care of them.

A group of scientists decided to conduct a study to see if the mother turkeys would take to other animals  if that same “cheep-cheep” noise was present. So ,they decided to test this with a stuffed polecat, a  natural enemy to all turkeys, naturally you would think a turkey would be pissed about a polecat near its nest… and they were. If no “cheep-cheep” noise was present it was a war zone! But when they had the “cheep-cheep” noise playing from a speaker within the stuffed polecat the mother turkey invited it to dinner, for tea and biscuits. The mother actually treated the polecat like it was one of its young if the “cheep-cheep” sound was playing! Yea… I know turkeys are known for being stupid, but still that automatic response is intriguing.

He calls it ‘click’ and ‘whirr.’ Click and the appropriate tape is activated(cheep-cheep); whirr and out rolls the automatic sequence of behavior. (taking care of the polecat)

Does it work on us? After all we’re superior beings… “that microscopic turkey brain doesn’t compare to us… not a chance.”

Well… humans do have fixed action patterns –  

One example of this is shown in a Harvard Study where someone was trying to get to the front of the line. If one simply asked “Hey, can I go before you to make copies?” 60% of the time people would let the person go ahead of them. But if you were to ask “Hey, can I go in front of you because I need to make copies?” 93% of the time people would let the person go ahead of them. That’s a 33% better chance for simply giving a regular reason. That’s like being in line at Disney Land and snaking your way to the front of the line by asking “Hey, can I go in front of you because I want to ride the ride?” So – give reasons for why you’re doing things, or give people a logical reason to do something.

The second example is our association of “expensive = good” and the fallacy that comes with it. Robert gives the example of a small boutique owner who is trying to sell some turquoise jewelry that she has had for months on end that never sold. The store owner is about to leave for a vacation and leaves a poorly worded note for one of her employees. She meant for the note to read “cut the price of the turquoise that doesn’t sell for shit in half.” The employee read the note as “double the price of the turquoise jewelry because I (the store owner) am a fearless bastard.” So the employee doubled the price of the jewelry and made a new sign reflecting the updated price. The store owner came back after her vacation and all of the turquoise jewelry was sold! But not only was it sold, it sold at double the price she originally asked for it! (Wahhhh, I know right!)

The fact that the new price for the jewelry read as “expensive” due to its new price allowed people to have the fixed-action pattern of “expensive = good” allowing them to justify buying it. It gave them a shortcut, because it’s impossible to know everything about everything, especially in our current 24/7 world where we’re constantly bombarded with stimulus. Our minds need shortcuts.

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Digital Marketing Food for thought Uncategorized

Year in Review

So every year on my birthday I like to do a little year in review, ya know… what happened in the past year type of thing to reflect on the past and prepare for the future. (doing it on New Years Day is way too cliché)

 

The past year has been pretty incredible to say the least. Some times life resembles a roller coaster of ups and downs but this past year was just up. I got married. Moved back to Wisconsin. Successfully launched a new company. Fell in love with Indian food. Looking back on it, I can’t think of anything negative that happened. (Revision: I did gain a few lbs., but who cares… I blame the Indian food.)

 

We really hit a homerun with our newest LSA company, Korked Baseball. (pun intended) Korked went from 0 – 100 real quick, as the kids would say. It started out with the entire Chicago Cubs team wearing our Try Not to Suck shirt then only grew from there. We ended up getting into 35+ stores, including every Lids in the Chicago area. (Kind of a dream for the HS me that wore hats all of the time) The best part was that we raised over $700,000 for charity over the past year, if you would have told me a year ago that we would have been able to do that I would’ve said you were full of shit. Seriously, I wouldn’t have believed you.

 

Marketing wise for Korked we learned a lot over the past year, eventually getting to the point where for every $15 we spent on digital ads we were making $100, that’s just the direct conversions not including the word-of-mouth sales. So with that we thought, well why don’t we start a new company to do marketing for other clients… and that’s what we did.

 

Last month we started a new marketing agency (still needs a name) doing marketing for a professional indoor soccer team, a marathon, semi-pro baseball teams, and more running events. So far so good. Over the next year we plan on growing it into something special.

 

With LSA over the next year we plan on adding a few more sports related brands and continue to grow Korked with an eye on exit. So far this year has been good, we have really been able to optimize our site and ads in a scalable way… I hope to be giving you another “I would’ve said you were full of shit.” stories again next year about the success of Korked and the other brands we build.

 

I’m really thankful for: my wife, for all of the support over the past year letting me work 80-90 hour weeks when needed. All of our customers. Our LSA partners Mike, Joe, John, Joe, and Joe. As well as the Cubs for winning the World Series, because if they didn’t last year could’ve been a different story.

 

Till next year,

Jacob

Picture of the year – Never forget

 

 

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Digital Marketing Uncategorized

MVMT Watches – Marketing Funnel

MVMT Watches Marketing

There are very few companies out there that I look at what they’re doing and think “Wow, these guys are good at digital.” But MVMT watches is one of those few companies.

Why?

To start with their website is ultra clean and user friendly; the kind of site that is effortless to navigate on both Mobile and Desktop. They use the same minimalist design they use in their watches on their website. Since it’s the Holiday season they offered a Holiday Gift guide for those who were looking for a gift for a friend or loved one, good stuff.

They also have a really clean blog with unique content from various influencers of their brand that showcases their watches then at the end of the posts showcases the featured watches from that particular blog. They also do a nice job of getting a users trust by showing they’ve been highlighted in Business Insider, The Chive, Entrepreneur along with others. (My guess is paid promotion but either way this builds trust in the buyer)

The website is good, but that is truly the tip of the iceberg. They could have had the prettiest website with the worlds greatest user experience but who gives a shit if you can’t capitalize on that. That’s like being the worlds greatest Golfer when your out with your friends but come tournament time you play like hot garbage; who cares.

MVMT has built an effective funnel to retarget and capture previous website visitors. I went onto their website and left to Facebook, within 5 seconds of being on Facebook I was hit with this after I just looked at their ‘Holiday Gift Ideas’ page –

Then I went on my way to read a Recode article and they display retargeted me with this on the Recode site –

This was a watch I had previously looked at, literally a minute before I went to the Recode article.  They are going to continue to shove these ads down my throat until I convert. Then I jumped back into Facebook to ‘see what my friends were up to’ (this was all a test to see what MVMT would do), and this popped up –

facebook marketing product catalog retargeting

Since I added that exact watch to my cart on their site they instantly targeted me with an automated ad with an offer of a ‘Limited Edition Gift box’ (Ooooo, lucky me!) to increase the odds of me buying the watch. This is what the lower end of the funnel looks like for MVMT, incentive based ads as they pushed site visitors from the Top of the funnel (Think of the people that come in via Entrepreneur, The Chive, Search, etc as the Top of the Funnel) all the way down to the bottom where they consistently bombard you with ads and incentives till you cave and buy a watch from them.

They have done a masterful job on their website and an even more masterful job on the bottom half of the iceberg creating a backend marketing engine that works and makes money. So many companies focus so heavily on the front end look of their website, but what matters and makes money is the engine that brings targeted customers back to the website to buy your products. Repeat visitors are more prone to buy; repeat visitors that have already shown interest, a la adding an item to the cart, are WAY more prone to buy and you should be targeting them with your ads accordingly. Give them that ‘Limited Edition Gift Box’ that only costs you an extra $1 or so to make, it’ll be worth it.

There are very few things MVMT could still do to make their site more effective – maybe having a better exit intent strategy, but overall they’re winning at digital.

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Food for thought Uncategorized

‘Enough.’ Needing to change our focus – Food for Thought

In today’s world there is always a focus on more and ‘enough.’

We are so hyper focused on making sure we have more, making sure we have ‘enough.’

  • We need more likes on social posts
  • We want more market share (not a bad thing)
  • We demand more quick wins

And to see them at rest, it seems as though we never can get enough:

  • Things to entertain us (I’m talking about those of us with Cable, Hulu and Netflix who are also using Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram… we don’t really need all of them, do we?)
  • Shallow friendships
  • Conspicuous displays of success (Wooo another follower….)

These are big reasons why many people say ‘they don’t have enough time’ to get something they’ve always wanted to do done…

But on the other hand…

There are a lot of us that walk around and think we have enough:

  • Education (We got that degree, right? What more do we need…)
  • Actionable knowledge
  • Deep Relationships
  • Mind changing conversations
  • Exposure to difficult topics

But do we…

I’m wondering what happens if we flip these segments?