Entrepreneurs and independent business people are always working on the next thing, often on the side while we maintain our current income. And as your mind begins to see the world in a more entrepreneurial way, you’ll spot opportunity everywhere.
A good problem to have, right? But we know that pure economic opportunity and even the status that comes with success are not enough to make you happy.
You need that avalanche of good ideas, because you need a process to get rid of the ones that are not a good fit for who you are, and who you’d like to become through the work you choose.
Looking back over my own evolution, I started off perhaps making some choices for the wrong reasons, but adapted my process in the last 10 years to match opportunity with who I am.
Today’s guest Jenny Blake opens Season Three of Unemployable having written a book I think we all wish we could have had years ago. It’s called Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, and it reveals an adaptable process that will help you weed out the wrong ideas faster, and get rolling on your next big thing.
Listen in for some great tips.
Listen to Unemployable with Brian Clark below ...
The Show Notes
How to Find Your Next Big Thing
Jenny Blake: Hi. I’m Jenny Blake, an author, career and business strategist, and much to my own surprise five years ago, I am now unemployable.
Voiceover: Welcome to Unemployable, the show for people who can get a job, they’re just not inclined to take one, and that’s putting it gently. In addition to this podcast, thousands of freelancers and entrepreneurs get actionable advice and other valuable resources from the weekly Unemployable email newsletter. Join us by registering for our Free Profit Pillars Course or choose to sign up for the newsletter only, at no charge. Simply head over to Unemployable.com and take your business and lifestyle to the next level. That’s Unemployable.com.
Brian Clark: Welcome back, all, to the season three opening of the Unemployable podcast for fiercely independent entrepreneurs, freelancers, coaches, and consultants. I’m Brian Clark, CEO of Rainmaker Digital, founder of Copyblogger, and your host for all things Unemployable.
It’s good to be back. I had a busy summer. Didn’t feel like I really took any kind of break, but it’s all good. Things are heading in the right direction, and really, that’s all you can ask for.
Unemployable is coming to you via Rainmaker.FM, a network of smart shows for people like you. This episode is made possible by the Rainmaker Platform. It’s what powers our sites, including Rainmaker.FM, Copyblogger, and yes, even Unemployable.com, along with thousands of other sites from marketers and publishers worldwide.
Check it out for yourself at RainmakerPlatform.com and take the free 14-day trial at no obligation. It’s your 24/7 digital marketing and sales machine, uniting a powerful website, integrated email, and powerful marketing automation in one solution. That’s RainmakerPlatform.com.
Onward with the episode. As we’ve discussed several times over the last year of Unemployable, entrepreneurs and independent business people are always working on the next thing, often on the side, while we maintain our current income. As your mind begins to see the world in a more entrepreneurial way, you’ll spot opportunity everywhere. A good problem to have, right?
But we know that pure economic opportunity and even the status that comes with being a successful business person are not enough to make you happy. You need that avalanche of good ideas because you need a process to get rid of the ones that are not a good fit for who you are and who you’d like to become through the work that you choose.
Looking back over my own evolution, I started off perhaps making some choices for the wrong reasons, but I adapted my process in the last 10 years or so to match opportunity with who I am.
Today’s guest, Jenny Blake, opens season three of Unemployable, having written a book, I think, we all wish we could have had years ago. It’s called PIVOT: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One. It reveals an adaptable process that will help you weed out the wrong ideas faster and get rolling on your next big thing. Before you check out the book, though, let’s talk to Jenny. She’s got some excellent tips for you in today’s episode.
Jenny, thanks so much being here.
Jenny Blake: Brian, thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor.
Brian Clark: Yeah. It’s interesting, you mentioned before we went on the air, that five years ago you didn’t consider yourself an unemployable type. You were even told by someone who wasn’t probably very nice that you wouldn’t make it. Tell us a little bit about that. Tell us how you got here. That aspect of it is always fascinating to me because, like I said, sometimes you don’t know you’re this type of person until you get a taste of it, and you realize, “Wow, I really can’t go backward.”
Jenny’s Journey from Startup, to Google, to Successfully Unemployed
Jenny Blake: Yes, and to my own surprise, like you said. I was a straight A student in school. I really tried hard to get an A, which is a habit I’ve tried to break as an adult, of people-pleasing right and left, and I worked at a startup for two years and then Google for five and a half. When I was at Google, I got promoted very quickly, twice in the first two years, became a manager at 24. And I thought, “I’m a great employee.”
At the time a mentor said to me — I wrote a blog post called 10 Reasons I Love My Cubicle — she said, “Yeah, but that’s kind like of like a dog that’s crate-trained.” I never forgot that statement. That first planted the seed that, “Could I make it on my own?” I thought that I did so well under guidance.
The comment you mentioned was from a manager, who during a performance review, about halfway into my time there … by the way, she had the highest attrition rates of anyone I had ever seen, so it was not just to me that she gave very strange feedback. She said I wasn’t strategic. These planted a lot of fears that, if I went out on my own, I wouldn’t be able to succeed.
Despite all those fears and despite me feeling like, “I’m not cut out for entrepreneurship,” when my first book, Life After College, came out in 2011, I knew that the bigger regret would be not trying. I gave myself six months of a pivot runway of savings and left my job. I joke that people treated me like I was breaking up with Brad Pitt. You know, “You really think you can do better than Google? How are you going to make it on your own?” I’m now celebrating my five-year anniversary, and a lot is still here, still in business, and still in New York City.
Brian Clark: Congratulations.
Jenny Blake: Thank you. And happily unemployable. I will never go back and get another job if I can help it. I am happier and healthier and doing more focused, strategic work than I ever did as an employee.
Brian Clark: Excellent, excellent. What did you do at Google?
Jenny Blake: When I first started, I was doing AdWords product training. Part of it is I wanted to be an author and speaker someday, but I used to get red hives all over my neck and chest when I would talk in front of people. I actually took that job as immersion therapy.
Then two years in, I hit my own plateau, feeling like, “I don’t want to talk about how to place Analytics tracking code for the rest of my career,” so I pivoted internally to the coaching and career development team. That was aided by doing coach training on nights and weekends.
Brian Clark: Excellent. Okay, so you made a pivot within Google, and then you made a pivot away from Google. We know that’s always a brave leap, I don’t care who you are. But what was your primary motivation, and what did you end up applying yourself? Did you take what you learned at Google and then extrapolate from there into your coaching career?
The Primary Motivation That Helped Jenny Successfully Maneuver Her Pivot
Jenny Blake: Much of it was similar. I was doing coaching and career development at Google. Then I just pivoted to do that now self-employed, but the interesting thing … I know you know this time in the blogosphere. It was like 2010, 2011, where everyone was kind of saying, “Quit your job. Don’t work for the man.” You know? It was like, “Go work from a beach in Thailand. Outsource everything.” I rode that adrenaline for the first year and a half.
I really tried to do the online marketer thing and build courses, but every time it came time to launch something, I just got that hives feeling again. So I hit another wall two years into my own business, where I said, “What’s next?” I’d become the girl who left things: the girl who left college — that was my first book, Life After College — and the girl who left Google.
But I didn’t have a clear sense for what was ahead. “Who am I? What do I stand for? What can I create a message around and really help people with?” This time, I didn’t have a steady paycheck to fund that exploration, so I became quite panicked as my bank account started to dwindle down to zero. This was in 2013. I had a really rough year.
I wondered, seriously questioned, “Am I delusional? Was that manager right? Is the gig up? Is it time for me to throw in the towel, leave New York, and go get another job?” When I thought about doing that, it just didn’t feel right. In that moment, I was kind of angry.
I’ve read over 400 personal development, business, finance, fitness books. You name it, it’s on my bookshelf. I was pissed because none of them were helping me out of this pickle. In the last few years, I’ve dedicated myself to understanding how to be more agile to change and also unpacking and reverse-engineering the pivot process.
We hear the word ‘pivot’ thrown around in Silicon Valley and the startup world, but it’s usually plan B, that something has failed. What I’ve come to realize that, in our career and especially as entrepreneurs, pivot is the new normal. It’s a mindset — and the better we get at it, the less jarring the pivot points are.
Why Pivot Is the New Normal
Brian Clark: Yeah, absolutely. That’s interesting that you say that. Number one, what you’ve gone through, I find over and over. I don’t care how successful someone ends up, they have that moment or moments. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. But it is true. Pivot in the startup world is almost like a euphemism for failure.
Jenny Blake: Right.
Brian Clark: Looking back at my own path, I pivoted, and it wasn’t about failure. It really was kind of a personal development thing, but you’re right. I never found a book that talked about the process you go through when you decide what the next thing is. Especially when you’re on your own, how do you fund the next thing by doing the old thing and then splitting your time?
I’ve done it several times. There was kind of a painful process that I went through, but I’ve just found repeatedly, among entrepreneurs, that everyone does it. It was interesting to me to find out through these interviews that everyone does it. Then, of course, you’ve written a book on it. So tell us a little bit about the inspiration for PIVOT. I kind of see where it came from. When was the moment when you said, “You know what? This is what I need to talk about”?
Jenny Blake: Well, first I’ll say, watching your pivots because I’ve been doing blogging for almost 10 years now. I started my website in 2005, so I’ve seen from Copyblogger to Copyblogger Media, to then transitioning to Rainmaker. I just want to highlight what you said is so important, and that actually, as entrepreneurs, pivots are a result of our success. You are extremely successful with Copyblogger, but there becomes a point when you want to keep growing and making an even bigger impact.
I don’t mean to put words in your mouth, but you could have written Copyblogger the next 20 years, but you decided to go in this new direction and expand into a podcasting platform and a whole digital marketing website platform. It’s been really cool to see. The key about a pivot is it’s not a 180, that each thing relates and builds upon the previous, but in a new, more exciting direction.
Brian Clark: Yeah, absolutely. Tell us about the book, then. Give us an overview first, and then there are certain aspects of it, I think, that people really need to hear about. As I’ve been going through the book … it is available now, as of the date of the publication, so run out and get it. We’ll give you some more information about that at the end. Give us an overview of the book.
Jenny’s Inspiration for Her Second Book, PIVOT
Jenny Blake: Sure. One of my favorite Agile development quotes is, “Each time you repeat a task, take one step toward automating it.” That was the impetus behind this. When I was going through my own feelings of mid-life or quarter-life crisis, they were hitting me every two years.
I felt like either something is wrong with me and I’m destined to be unhappy … I wasn’t happy at Google. “What’s wrong with me? This is a dream company.” Two years into my own business, I’m hitting this wall again. What’s my problem? Or the second conclusion was that we’re all going to have to ask and answer this question more frequently.
As I started interviewing people for the book, the latter really proved to be true. And if that’s the case, then we’ve got to get better at this. This skill, especially for entrepreneurs, is such a critical one to be assessing and choosing the next direction. That was the real impetus — to want to unpack and create a methodology for this moment that we call the pivot.
I came to think about the basketball player analogy. The biggest mistake that I made that got me to almost have to fold my business was I was looking so far outside of myself for answers. I was so focused on what wasn’t working, what I didn’t want, what I didn’t yet have, that none of that propelled me forward. I thought about, “What is a pivot, really?”
If you think about a basketball player, when they stop dribbling, one foot is firmly planted and grounded in the floor. That creates a source of stability. Then they can scan for opportunity with their pivot foot. So the biggest mistake I made was not leveraging my existing strengths — my assets, my existing sources of income. What had worked for me in the past? Essentially, what was already working, and what I could know about my one-year vision?
Those create our known variables. Where are you right now, and what would success look like a year from now? I think anything farther out than a year is kind of pointless because things change so frequently. But if you can anchor those two points, now we can scan more intelligently, and we’re grounded.
Why Getting Your Foot Planted Is Just the First Step of Jenny’s Four-Step Pivoting Process
Jenny Blake: In my case, I was running around the basketball court in circles, but once I could really ground down in my strengths, what was already working, and what I knew success might look and feel like, then we can scan. There’s a four-stage pivot method that I’ve developed.
The first stage, plant, which I just described. Scan is about connecting to your existing strengths. Who are some people you can talk to or people you admire or can even learn from, from afar on podcasts like this one? What are some new skills you want to develop? What would you love to become an expert in? What projects are most compelling to you?
Then the third stage is pilot. This is like the basketball player passing the ball around the court. Where’s your best chance to make a shot? It’s really critical to take the pressure off of having to have the one best next move right up front. There’s a lot of risk involved in that, so pilots are 10 percent to 20 percent projects that can help test the direction of what’s next. A good pilot will help a person understand three things. Do I enjoy this new area? Can I become an expert at it? Is there room to expand?
I call those the three E’s. We call do this in our business. Repeat plant, scan, pilot … plant, scan, pilot over and over and be just fine.
Sometimes, eventually, there’s a launch moment. That’s when you pull the trigger and go all in on the new direction. For me, leaving my job. For someone else, it might be launching a new product or service for their business. That launch moment, we can reduce risk by repeating the plant, scan, pilot process. The better that we get at doing this continuously, it becomes less of sharp pivot points in our business and our career and more of a continuous flow.
Brian Clark: Interesting. It’s a very pragmatic approach. I like that aspect of it. That mirrors, in my pre-Copyblogger days, how I made decisions. I want to talk a little bit about motivation, though. We all know entrepreneurs who seem to be driven to compensate for something that has nothing to do with this. It could be a bad childhood. It could be being a little bit further over on the autism scale, like Bill Gates. Something that’s perceived as a liability becomes an entrepreneurial asset.
In my own experience, I know early on that I made very pragmatic decisions about, for example, when I shifted into the real estate industry. I had no passion for that, but I had a very pragmatic skillset. I knew I could succeed. I was motivated at that time by just I had to succeed as an entrepreneur, coming from a solo law practice, which I did mainly just to support myself. Is there a wrong way to pivot in your view from coming from the wrong source of motivation?
The Wrong Way to Pivot (and How to Do It Right)
Jenny Blake: Typically, if someone is making choices based on fear, those usually don’t end up well, but in your case, what you’re describing is also a great example of pivots within a pivot. A larger pivot is comprised of several smaller ones, so before I saw more on that, I’m actually curious to hear from you. How did the real estate pivot, how did real estate then help with what you did with Copyblogger? Real estate or the law that you had done.
Brian Clark: Yeah. It was beyond being essentially the equivalent of a freelancer or professional service provider. It was my first entrepreneurial success. It happened because I was really, really good at online marketing. We’re talking about 2001 to 2005 here. But I was not good at managing the business. I tell this story all the time.
I didn’t let clients down. I just worked and worked and worked, and it was terrible. I found myself really unhappy with what I had created, despite the fact that it was a success. It’s interesting that, when I did choose to shift over to what people know me for, beginning in 2006 with Copyblogger, I had made a decision about what I wanted to do that was less pragmatic.
I just accepted that, “Well, as long as I can make a living and support my family, I don’t care if I make less money.” But the flip thing happened. I made exponentially more money. It sounds like one of these follow-your-passion stories, but it’s not that simple. I knew I had the skillset, but actually, I was more afraid, I guess, before I actually did it that I wouldn’t succeed, and that pragmatism kept me in the real estate business. Does that make sense?
Jenny Blake: Yeah, absolutely. It’s so fun to reverse-engineer pivots. Everybody listening, that’s one of the secrets here, is you’ve all done this. Everyone listening has pivoted, and it’s really fun to look at what the two things have in common. Your perfect example of, you were doing the real estate thing, you know that the whole picture wasn’t for you, but this one piece of online marketing you really excelled at, so you took that piece and doubled down on it to start Copyblogger. I love what you’re saying about, it was scarier. You’re kind of saying, “Yeah, my pragmatic side … ”
When I was leaving Google, I joked, I have this inner CFO who was just so paranoid. Like, “Ahh, you’re giving up a six-figure salary! What are you doing?” I created a business plan for my new idea, for my own inner CFO. It was not for anyone else but that little voice inside of me that wanted to be so practical. Usually, that pragmatic side of us, they have a primary motivation, and that’s to keep us safer. In your case, keep your family fed with a roof over their head. And they have a fear. If we can just figure out, “Okay, how can I address that fear and keep moving, and keep moving forward anyway?” Ultimately, decisions are data.
I do get this question a lot: “How do I know when to pivot, and what if I make the wrong move?” There’s no one that I interviewed for the book that regretted their choice. What’s very interesting is we see this stat that the average employee tenure is three to four years. When I interviewed people for the book and I went back to fact-check a year and a half later, almost nobody had stayed in the same position by choice and by circumstance. People got hired. Their company got acquired. Then they got fired. They started a business. They folded a business. They pivoted their business. They went back to work for a company. I saw it all.
All of these people, when I was going to fact-check, they were like, “Oh, don’t bother putting my story in the book. I’m pivoting again.” But that funny thing was, everybody did. That was the case for everyone. I think we can take the pressure off of this next move being the end all, be all. That’s why the subtitle of the book is PIVOT: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One. Once you make that move, you’ll get new valuable information that will help you no matter what in whatever’s next.
Brian Clark: Yeah, it’s interesting. I think the more people understand this, the better overall, because I don’t know about you, but the external … and I’m pretty impervious, too. If I internally make a decision and go with it, then you can’t talk me out of it. You can’t, no matter what you say. I’ve been viewed by my friends, for example, from high school, college, as crazy for a long time because they were always, “Oh, you’re doing what?”
My wife called me the Madonna of business because I change so often, but to me, it was always a logical progression. What’s your advice for dealing the negativity and questioning behavior that you’re going to get from family, friends, etcetera? I was fortunate that, for whatever reason, my wife always had faith in me. I don’t know why. I never had to worry about that aspect of it, but friends and family were like, “What? What are you doing?”
Jenny’s Advice for Dealing with Naysayers — Especially Friends and Family
Jenny Blake: Well, it makes sense because friends and family, their priority for us is to keep us safe, but that’s usually not the value that we are optimizing for. I wrote this book for people I call ‘high net-growth individuals.’ Money is great, but for us, we would take a pay cut, boot strap a business, make a lateral move in order to take smart risks and keep learning and growing, and making an impact.
Like you said, the counter-intuitive thing is that, often, we end up making more money when we take that path. For starters, if you’re high net-growth person listening to this, yeah, it’s very likely that your threshold for growth, change, and uncertainty is higher than many of your friends and family.
One of the reasons I love podcasts like yours, Brian, and even living in New York, is everyone I meet thinks they’re a black sheep. It’s an island of black sheep that have come together. I wonder how many people listening, you felt like a black sheep at some point in your life or your family or people you went to high school or college with. I think part of it is just celebrating that and actually recognizing that that’s how you differentiate and make an impact. Yeah, of course, those comments are going to ruffle your feathers because often they mirror our own inner gremlins and biggest fears, but the key is to keep moving.
The other thing that I’ll say, there’s this great analogy. Entrepreneurs have a huge advantage because we are learning the skill of existing at the edge of uncertainty. We don’t have a paycheck coming every two weeks. Maybe some of you have totally optimized the hell out of your business and you have these recurring or passive income streams that are yielding great monthly revenue, but barring that, there’s generally more ups and downs. We could lose certain clients or things tend to go in waves.
Feast or famine. Eat what you kill. What you even were doing in real estate. Nassim Taleb, I love his book Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. He uses the analogy of the taxi driver and the prostitute.
He says they’re more resilient to change and more antifragile than, say, a middle manager at a big bank because they’re seeing fluctuations in the market right away. They know if clients, if people stop hailing cabs at a certain corner, that taxi driver has to go find another route. Even though it’s a little more stressful in the day to day, overall, we’ve been building this muscle of managing uncertainty and taking smart risks and experimenting in our own businesses, as opposed to the person who is resting on their laurels and not doing those things.
Again, to the fears and the comments from friends and family, I would also just say, yes, we may experience a little more stress day to day, but we’re actually becoming so antifragile to shocks and setbacks, which the truth is, everyone’s going to experience. It’s just they may not be expecting it.
Brian Clark: Yeah, I love that. Back to your black sheep analogy. I literally thought something was wrong with me, and I’ve explored so much of this with this show. It’s almost been like therapy for me. I thought something was wrong with me because I only experienced true joy when I was exploring and implementing the next thing. I thought, “I’m just malcontent. There’s something wrong with me.”
Then I started looking into it, and this is my other project, Further. From a psychological standpoint, that’s what makes us happy. It’s normal, and yet we’re almost conditioned to think we’re not being consistent, we’re not being stable, if we’re always looking to do the next thing. But it turns out that, if you’re wired as an entrepreneur, then you need to embrace the pivot, not feel like something’s wrong with you. Again, I think the message is so important, and I’m glad you’re sharing it.
Tell me a little bit about your process that you share in the book as far as finding the right next thing. Once I figured out I was an entrepreneur, I saw opportunity everywhere, and I would enjoy doing the mental calculation of figuring out, “Okay, how do you market it? What’s the business model?” all of that. Then I’d come to the end, and I’m like, “I don’t want to do that.”
That was the same kind of mindset that got me into a successful, but not necessarily gratifying business in the real estate industry. How do you find the right next thing? Is it sort of like having enough empathy for yourself to understand what really is going to make you happy, as opposed to the paycheck or the money?
How to Find Your Next Big Thing (and Overcome the Tyranny of How and Should)
Jenny Blake: I think it’s a combination of things. First, on the black sheep thought, I’m so glad you said that because Joseph Campbell calls it ‘the rapture of being alive.’ We could amend that to say ‘the rapture of being an entrepreneur.’ Would we have it any differently? You know, if we knew exactly our 10- to 15-year business plan all laid out, we would be so bored.
Part of this, and the reason I’m calling it a pivot, is because I want a new language rather than, what, we get two, a quarter-life crisis and a mid-life crisis? That’s ridiculous. We’re going to be changing every few years. That’s the new thing, and that’s what makes us happy.
Yes, I’m all for embracing it and loving the complexity, enjoying that. That’s what our brain wants. Ours brains are thirsty to be stretched to the edges. As for how to really figure out what’s next, it’s so important that this be grounded in one’s existing strengths, interests, values, and again, that one-year vision.
The biggest mistake that I see among go-getters — I used to work at Google, I still do training with managers and directors there from time to time — is everybody goes, “Okay, I’m at a pivot point. What’s out there?” The first thing we do is start to look so far outside. “What’s out there?” We feel compare and despair or analysis paralysis and, “Oh, there’s so many ideas. Which one should I do?” That’s usually a sign that someone hasn’t connected deeply enough with their existing strengths and what’s already working.
Whereas, if you can unpack your current state of affairs, even for entrepreneurs, of all your revenue streams, which ones bring the most joy? Which ones feel easy to do? Which types of your clients do you just light out to work with? When are you the most in the zone during the day? One year from now, truly what does success look like? How much do you want to be earning? What does your ideal average day look like? What kind of impact do you want to make?
If you knew you could get on the TED stage and give a talk that would be seen a million times, what would you say? A lot of people skip that step. Maybe to some it sounds like woo-woo, self-help, or part of it is, when we say a ‘one-year vision,’ immediately, our gremlins rush in saying, “Who the hell do you think you are? You can’t do that. You’re too young. You’re too old. You’re too dumb” — all the comments that we’re afraid. And we start to shoot down these big ideas with the how.
My first coach called it ‘the tyranny of the hows.’ It’s so important when you’re trying to map what’s next as an entrepreneur to save the how. You can get to the how. Everyone listening to this is super creative and resourceful. I just have no doubt about that. When you have a compelling vision, you’ll make such quick work of it, but if you skip that vision piece, that’s when we start floundering. Then what you said, Brian, also raises a great point.
We can learn from Brené Brown on this, who has popularized the concept of grounded theory. She didn’t make this up, but it’s a social science method where, instead of developing a top-down hypothesis and having a conception of something and then finding the data to prove it, she does what she calls ‘grounded theory type research’ where she just goes and interviews people, collects a bunch of data, and then parses it for themes.
As entrepreneurs, we can do the same thing. We can talk to our clients. We can survey our audiences. We can just collect information on, “What are the biggest challenges you’re facing? What are you struggling with? What I can create for you this year? What would be most helpful? What do you most enjoy receiving from me?” And use that to also simultaneously inform us so that we’re not creating in an echo chamber.
We’re actually taking that feedback and listening, putting our ear to the ground, and co-creating with our market.
Brian Clark: Yeah. I love that. You’re really just identifying problems and desires, right? The foundation of any good new venture and also how to communicate with those people when you get to the how. I like the tyranny of how. We have another saying on this show, which is ‘the tyranny of should.’ You’re always getting advice. “Well, this is what you should do.”
To me, that’s a four-letter word. Going through the process of finding, I guess, what you would term ‘pragmatic opportunity’ based on your own skillset, you can find a lot of things that you might tell yourself, “I should do that. That would work. That would make a lot of money.” But I found that, if I’m in should land and not in want land, then I’m about to make a mistake.
The Drop or Delegate Decision Every Entrepreneur Faces … Repeatedly
Jenny Blake: Totally. To your point earlier, I used to feel really bad about that. Like, “Am I so entitled or spoiled that I can only work on things I want to work on? What’s wrong with me? Buck up.” You know? “How many people are at jobs they don’t like? Why can’t I create a sales page? Why am I resisting this?” I just had to realize it was because it’s not my strength. In those moments, we can either drop or delegate.
In your case, Brian, you love ideating and thinking really high level and strategically. I know I’ve heard you on podcasts. Then you create a bad-ass team around it because you don’t want to be the one probably maintaining all the nitty-gritty of something. That’s not your strength. As entrepreneurs, we have the choice to not do something at all or find a way to delegate and create a support system around it.
Brian Clark: Yeah. That’s absolutely. Again, that’s 180-degree shift from when I tried to do everything myself and ended up hating everything.
Jenny Blake: Right.
Brian Clark: That was a big pivot for me, which was just be almost ruthless in the fact that you do what you’re good at and what you enjoy, and then you find someone else to do the other stuff who actually is good at that and enjoys it, which is key. You know?
Jenny Blake: Yes. I’m so curious to know. I know that you have another question, but going from Copyblogger to Rainmaker is a big transition that we all saw from the outside. I’m curious how you knew that, that was the right next move for you and the business.
Brian Clark: It’s interesting. Copyblogger, from 2006 to 2010, I launched several businesses off of it. I always say, if I had any sense, I should have just left it that way, but my ambition to create something else really required all of those people to be working together, as opposed to this situation where we had separate companies with only me in common.
When we did the merger, I thought at that moment we should re-brand away from Copyblogger. My partners talked me out of it. They were right. Copyblogger was the brand that people knew, and we needed that continuity. But then once we got Rainmaker Platform out and then we had Rainmaker.FM and it was clear we were moving in that direction, then that’s when re-branded the company.
It was really pragmatic because within the people in the blogging, content marketing world, Copyblogger means something. It’s a meaningful brand. Then you talk to people outside of our little world, and they’re like, “What? Copy what?”
Jenny Blake: Even blogs have changed so much, yeah.
Brian Clark: Exactly. They have a perception of what a blogger is, and it’s generally not positive, which is not fair — but it is what it is. I see it more, again, as a natural evolution, but again, people on the outside go, “What?”
Jenny Blake: That’s so interesting that you changed the business structure first — so again, pivot within a pivot — then, once people were on board with that, changed the name and branding and kept expanding the extensions of it.
Why You Probably Already Know Your Next Big Thing … Even If You Don’t Realize It Yet
Brian Clark: Yeah. I think when you do this process that you’ve outlined in the book, the answers … we talk about doing what’s indicated. It sounds very Zen, but it’s also very pragmatic, just like the process that you’re talking about. The answer is there.
Jenny Blake: Yes.
Brian Clark: You just have to be willing to embrace it. It’s that point when you want to second guess yourself about what’s just right there in front of your face that you make mistakes. I think we’re good at that. We’re good at doing what’s indicated, as opposed to going off on a tangent. Again, we have to work from a communication standpoint to let people know, “No, this isn’t a tangent. This is why,” step by step by step. I think that’s how we keep people on board with us.
Jenny Blake: That was one of the biggest things that I found, too, for myself included, the answer was right under my feet. I already had it. It’s so tempting to want to say, “Oh I’m not there yet.” Again, the answers are outside of myself.
I love your guiding principle of see what’s indicated because that’s the big trick — that it’s already right under our feet. It’s so funny, so many people I talk to kind of smack themselves upside the head. They’re like, “Doh!” It seems so obvious in hindsight once they do land on the thing because it was there all along. I find that so funny, as an entrepreneur and anyone even more broadly in our career, that the answer is right there and we can know it, and then sometimes still just have to follow the process and follow the clues to really lock it in.
Brian Clark: Absolutely. If you’re looking for some guidance in this process as opposed to just the internal struggle that many of us have had to deal with, please check out PIVOT. This is a great book, and it’s an important topic. We talked about it all last season, and that’s why I wanted to do an early episode this season on the same topic. And of course, Jenny was right there with the ammunition. So go get this book. Jenny, is there anything special? Do you want to send people to a certain location to check out the book? Should we send them to Amazon? What do you suggest?
Where to Get Jenny’s New Book (and Some Additional Goodies)
Jenny Blake: Sure. Well, thank you so much. There’s a full toolkit for the book at my website. That’s at PivotMethod.com/Toolkit. People can take a pivot ability self-assessment and see what’s your pivot profile. We have coaches if you want more one-on-one support. That’s the website., and yes, please do buy the book on Amazon. I would love to hear your pivot stories. Thank you so much, Brian, for having me on, and big thanks to everybody for listening.
Brian Clark: Absolutely. Thanks for being here. We will link that up in the show notes for you to get over there and do that assessment and also check out the book. Jenny, thank you so much for being here.
Jenny Blake: Awesome. Thank you so much.
Brian Clark: All right, everyone. Check out the book. Check out the links, and as always — as exemplified by the very pivot concept itself — keep going.