Business: Get Up to Your Elbows in It

After encountering some ultra-inspiring talks these past weeks, I’ve taken to using a new term for what I think will inevitably become our modern day “thought leaders.” I call these people “brand action heroes.”

Forget thought leadership. Action is the new 5-year plan.

How does your garden grow?

Who are these heroes? I would wager that most awesome brands have one behind the scenes, but the two that recently caught my eye are Noah Kagan, founder of AppSumo, and Saul Colt, “Head of Magic” at… well, wherever he goes, but most recently it was Freshbooks.

So here’s what makes them action heroes and not your typical marketing or branding thought leaders:

While most of us are still weighing the pros and cons of an idea, these guys are already out there running with it.

When they talk, you can immediately sense their experimental nature and hunger for action.

Soaking in and acting on sources of inspiration is second nature to them. They don’t over think things. They jump right in and play.

We must learn from this unique breed of Doer.

How many of your ideas have died at the “wouldn’t it be cool?” stage?

As Colt says, there are really only two kinds of people in the world: “Why?” people and “Why Not?” people. I would guess that too many business owners and marketers are holding back the success of their companies by operating purely in the former category.

You can map this thinking pretty easily onto another useful way of segmenting the population: “Thinkers” and “Doers.”

Which one are you? Which does your company need most?

I once heard someone say that you should never trust a person that hasn’t made at least 3 big, ugly mistakes.

This makes sense to me, because if you’ve managed to escape big mistakes, you have likely played it safe. And, in that case, what do you really know about pushing the envelope? What could you possibly know about the limits of an idea?

The only way to know for sure that an idea won’t work is to watch it crash and burn.

Kagan’s approach to validating a business idea? Forget laying out a 6 month plan. Figure out what it is that you need to be able to sell for your product to fly, and sell it. Ask yourself: how can I validate this idea today?

If you’re drawing out a process that could really be done faster, you have to ask yourself why. We sometimes pad our schedules with planning and research because we want to protect our dream from reality just a little longer – something Kagan calls being a “wantrepreneur.”

The takeaway

We face big business questions on a regular basis: “How do I get more business attention?” “How do I make my employees happier?” “Does anybody want what I sell?”

Take a look at how you approach them:

Do you try to think your way through them? (I’m guilty of this one! I call it the “Mad Scientist”)

Talk your way through them? (If only your significant other were a consultant)

Research your way through them? (Maybe if you just sign up for one more webinar!)

Or… do you roll up your sleeves and work your way through it?

These are all important components to business decision making, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that they are equal. Only one of them gives you the real answers you need.

Turn this idea into action

You have one month left in 2012. While everyone else is whiteboarding their 2013, you’re going to dedicate this month to getting your hands dirty.


Follow your intuition instead of the rules.

Share the stuff you create.

Stretch your comfort zone.

Solve your biggest business problem.

As Kagan says: “Go get rejected.”

Share & Explore

Click to Tweet:

Forget thought leadership – action is the new 5 year plan! via @lisahaggis

Stop trying to think your way through a problem and get your hands dirty! via @lisahaggis

Check these brand action heroes out for yourself: Noah Kagan and Saul Colt.

Know anybody else that inspires you with their get-up-and-go-ness? Tell me in the comments below!