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SOS report 5 Steps | 50 Minutes

an emergency guide for Digital entrepreneurs


WARNING! This 25 page report is for emergencies only. Proceed at your own risk.


contents about the author 1. the builder’s dilemma 2. introduction - what’s happening? 3. the symptoms - observe 4. the problem - identify 5. the prelim check-up - analyze 6. the diagnosis - assess 7. the cure: 5 steps | 50 minutes 8. the treatment - adapt 9. mindsets: scarcity vs. abundance 10. the resistance 11. the all-in 100% guarantee the SOS Report | 3


the builders dilemma. The Information Age is exploding. The internet has become the ultimate data transfer node. It is an eco-system built on the foundations of communication. It’s currency is knowledge. It’s energy is exchange. As happened with the cities of the last century, people are moving in in droves. Searching for an opportunity. Seeking out an audience.

We plugin. We logon. We cannot fathom real-time environments without high-speed connectivity. The way we interact is changing. The way we use our devices is changing. We are no longer web users. We are web builders. Everything we do online is meant to evoke a response. E-mail. Chat. Messenger. Facebook. Twitter.... All are digital eco-systems built for engagement. In its infancy, the exchange was one way. As our knowledge has grown the street has been repaved for oncoming traffic. In the early days we listened. We searched. We absorbed. Now our collective comfort level has risen with our expertise. Now we dictate. We were traffic, now we drive traffic. We used to take in. Now we put out. We create, we package, we ship, and we hope someone will find us. We want to connect with our tribe.

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In essence, we’re all architects now, and as architects we have to be accountable for the spaces that we build. The information we disseminate. The value we provide. We’re suddenly at the mercy of our own constructs. And that’s a good thing. We should leverage that power for future generations to benefit from. Just like we build newer and better roads. The same we erect ever more sustainable homes, we have to assemble a better internet. This is what I call the builder’s dilemma. Something interesting happened to me just the other day. I was walking down a typical [beautiful] Valencian street, on my way to the ATM to take out some money, and I saw a penniless tramp slouched on the corner playing the flute. Given his rugged state, I was impressed by well he could play. The flute was cheap, the tune unrecognizable, and the scene banal, but something in his sound struck a chord. He was building something. It made me think. This guy is never going to care about the work I do. He will never see a building I design, a house I built, or any digital landscape I create. And yet there I was listening to him play his music, amplifiying his passion to passersby. It was sheer coincidence and though I caught a glimmer of his talent, the gravity of the moment wasn’t enough for me to break my stride in the slightest.

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I walked on without so much as dropping 5 centimos into his hat. That’s how 90% of the internet music you play will be received. With indifference. Moments like these seem innocuous enough at first glance, then they come back to bite you later on down the road. A few steps later, I caught myself thinking. I thought, and thought, and thought the whole rest of the way to the grocery store. I was completely distracted as I made my way through aisle after aisle of brand after brand and choice after choice, wondering what it all meant. And in that existential crisis-like moment I was living, the main object of my reflection was the question: Who do I build for? Who will listening to my music? That is the wrong question to be asking. Focus on the process. The construction. The evolution. Simply Optimal is much more than a blog. It is not read. It is inhabited. It is organic. It grows and evolves every day as I grow and evolve. Those of you that have been around long enough have seen its development. I have to take responsibility for the people who choose to live here. They choose to do so because of the music they hear everytime they get a Letter in their inbox, or enter the url in their browser. You have to be accountable to those who live in your space, whether real or virtual; to those who listen to your music.

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I don’t know well over half of the people who read these letters or visit my digital landscape at SO, but it doesn’t matter. Someone out there is listening. They choose to inhabit the space I build. I may not know all of them personally but we communicate with each other. I put in the hours, write these articles, ship them out to readers, and an exchange is born. A line of communication is opened. And it’s not just me. Millions of people are doing it around the globe. Richard Branson built an empire by playing his proverbial flute, and making his music everyday. At first no one was listening. Failures ensued. But he continued to play, and now we all listen. We all inhabit his space in so form or another, be it browsing casually in our local Virgin megastore, or sitting quietly in the economy section of a Virgin Atlantic 747. He may sit in a boardroom, or a cockpit, but he’s no different than the man I saw on the corner, and would admit as much. A few of the folks working in the digital realm know this. They are building, playing their music, day in and day out. Google, Facebook, Twitter. These are social platforms yes. But they are also social environments. They are as spatial as the Parthenon was in Ancient Greece. they foment community.

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They shelter dialogue. It’s not a coincidence. Their architects know all too well the role they play in our society. Zaha Hadid. Rem Koolhaas. Renzo Piano. Sir Norman Foster. These are the architects of today’s physical world. I, and people like Seth Godin, Julien Smith, Chris Brogan, Jonathan Harris, Colin Wright, and countless others, aim to be the architects of tomorrow’s digital landscape. Who do you build for? It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the answer to that just yet. Just keep building. Don’t get discouraged. You never know who is going to hear your music and be touched by it. Chances are you won’t even know it when they are. And that’s just fine.

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“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” | Leonardo Da Vinci|

What’s happening? Things are moving fast. And they are accelerating every day. Evolving. Growing and collapsing. Expanding and contracting. Time and space are melding into one. One day drifts into another, and another, and another. It’s becomes increasingly diificult to separate the substance from the noise. You are only certain of one thing: You’re not getting the results you expected, wanted, or hoped for. Professionally, personally, and spiritually you tell yourself you can’t keep up. It’s all just too much. Your Facebroken, Twitterfried, and all LinkedOut. Conversion rates, click per, meta this, beta that. You are losing your grip on the digital cloud. Your relationships are struggling. You feel disconnected. Disengaged like never before. Your business is floundering. The vital signs are weak and you’re not seeing growth. Money keeps pouring out, but not coming in. Competitors abound, new technologies emerge, and customers tighten their belts. It’s time to slow down, man up, and take control.

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You’re stuck. You need a change. A change of pace, of luck, of scenery. Anything. Paralysis begins to set in. Your blood pressure rises and you feel faint. All those years of hard work show no signs of paying off. With the economy the way it is, nobody knows who’s next on the chopping block.

“The most successful Internet gurus make the same mistakes that everyone does. They experience the same obstacles. They feel the same pain and self-doubt. They face the same challenges all business owners face.”

Every day is uncertain. A constant pingpong game between excitement and boredom. Unfulfilled... desperation creeps in. Fear follows. Hesitation ensues. The fear causes the hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true. Markets are tanking, debts are skyrocketing, governments are falling, economies dissolving, and you’re standing still, watching your life pass you by. Not only are you starting to panic, but you have no idea what to do about it except fidget, pace, and wonder how in the world you got here.

| Richard Sefren - Entrepreneur’s Emergency |

You’re sending out an SOS hoping that someone you will hear your cry for help. I have heard the call. So let’s get started.

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The problem - Identify If you’re reading this it’s because you are worried. You are worried about your digital future. You are questioning your happiness. You are worried about your business, or worst of all, worried about yourself. You are stuck in the quicksand and starting to sink… fast! Globalization and the Internet are causing mass homogenization of human identity, making us all look the same. It is becoming harder and harder to distinguish ourselves. To stand out. To be original. It’s no surprise we eventually develop an identity crisis. Sometimes it’s hard to know where you stand, which makes it difficult to know where to go from there.

“Presumably, there’s something in our nature that’s hardwired to be comparative.” | David Shaywitz - Forbes |

Our real and digital worlds aren’t sophisticated enough to integrate all the new data. And our brains aren’t advanced enough to process it. So you copy, you imitate, you mimic what’s already out there in the hopes of replicating the results. You try what already works. You want to be safe. You are afraid to risks. As a result, you end up stuck, and our digital businesses suffer.

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Things used to be easy. You had your friends, your family, and your customers. Your network was easy to track, to grow, and to build. Growth was easy to monitor, measure, analyze. Things are different now. The popularity of social networks has introduced new players. You find yourself seeking out new connections, new leads, new likes, new followers, new friendsters. You have a profile here, an account there, an e-mail somewhere else, a friend request, countless new messages, an evite, a conference, a wedding, a baptism, a lecture, a product launch. You have traffic spikes and traffic dips, spreadsheets, daily planners, digital calendars, planners, schedulers, a new smartphone, a new tablet, a mobile app, countless reading lists, to do lists, to be continued lists, to buy lists. As you struggle to keep up you’re goals and dreams seem to become more elusive. And your bottom line is bottoming out. If you’re not careful, those dreams will become a memory you can only see in the rearview mirror. It’s time to step up, to calm down, to declutter your business, your house, and your mind so you can start building that which matters most: your life and your legacy.

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The prelim check-up I do have some ideas about what’s troubling you, and how to shift you out of neutral and back into high gear. In fact, I have lots of them, of all shapes and sizes, yet they all go back to the same fundamental issue. Since this is an emergency, I’ll save the bulk of them for later. I encourage you to subscribe to Simply Optimal for free regular updates and we’ll touch on some of them together there. But I want to focus on telling you what you need to know right now. Here’s a clue [or several]: ›You are not alone. I know it feels like it, but you’re not. We have all been in your shoes before. ›You are NOT your own worst enemy. Your stuff IS. ›You are asking the wrong questions, and therefore searching in all the wrong places. ›You aren’t clear on your objectives. You think you are, but trust me, you’re not. ›You need a break. A time to self-reflect, to unplug, untether, and disconnect. You need a digital sabbatical. I know some of this may be hard to swallow, but the sooner you do, the sooner you will get back on track.

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First thing is first, without absolute clarity, you are not in a position to take any future actions. Any action taken in this state of confusion will only serve to set you back even further, and paralyze you even more. Given those five realities, written in that order for a reason, it’s fair to say that before you move forward, you will need to take a few steps back. Now let’s look at these one by one in more depth. What I just said may be difficult for you to accept, but acceptance is the first step in unraveling the mysteries that keep you locked in rigor mortis. All of these clues are inextricably related to one another, and they all go back to the same overarching theme: You need to go deeper. You have been lingering on the surface, scratching the essence of your business. You are still swimming in the shallow end of the pool with the young kids. We need to get you back over to the deep end where the big boys are playing. Eventually you will need to get out of the pool altogether, but let’s go one step at a time.

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Before we get into the specific steps let’s close the circle of what ails you. It’s simple. You are where you are, feeling the way you feel, because your surrounded by people and things that are loud, noisy and distracting. These people don’t have your best interests at heart. They have their own problems to worry about. See they can afford to be rambunctious and stay where they are. They are still learning, getting acquainted with the world around them. You on the other hand, cannot. The time has come for you to remove the training wheels and forge ahead on your own. This may be uncomfortable and scary, but it has to be done. You need to evolve, to reinvent, to incubate and innovate. It’s starts with being authentic. You need to get better acquainted with what you really want to accomplish. Do you want to give back? do you want to travel the world? Do you want to build a nest egg for your kids? How can you know your business model if you don’t know why you’re in business in the first place?

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The SOS Report: An Emergency Guide for Digital Entrepreneurs