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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

If you’ve been in business for awhile and showing up every day, at some point, you found something that was working well for you.

Then a funny thing happened.

You moved on. It’s the strangest thing. We tend to find something that works well and then we move on to something else. It’s just in our nature.

But if you want to maximize your profits and level up, you need to do more of that thing! Go back and squeeze every last drop out of it!

If you’re asking yourself at this point, “How do I determine if something worked well in the past?” I’m not here to give you a litmus test. I’m talking to the people who know EXACTLY what I’m talking about and who can imagine a very specific thing they abandoned.

If you’re still trying to figure out what works, keep going! Keep doing, keep trying. In this episode we look at how to maximize the things that were working and get a whole lot more mileage out of them.

Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
  • Go back to something that has worked for you. Do it again.
  • Take what you think is maximizing and triple it.
  • If something did well before, it’s going to do well again.
  • Do something that sets you apart.
  • You are different as an individual and as a brand—find that difference and focus on it.
  • Always be seeking to improve and get closer to what your show, blog, or video should really be.
  • What is your unique advantage and unique selling point?
  • If you want to get the word out about something, don’t just spam the same link—find new ways and new mediums to tell the story.
Show Notes
  • 11:00 Sean: This Level-Up Your Business series is one I’m going to be pointing people back to: Focus, Overlap, Maximize, Optimize. At some point in your past, if you’ve been doing this for a while, you found something that worked well for you, but for some reason you stopped. You moved on to something else. I don’t know why, but we all tend to do this. We move on once we find something that works; it’s Shiny Object Syndrome (Related: e178 How to Resist Shiny Object Syndrome, Do More of What Works, & Double Your Revenue).
  • 11:43 I want to encourage you to go back to what was working. Do more of what works. Maximize that thing. Get more mileage out of stuff. We’re relaunching seanwes tv daily—how can we get more out of that? One of the ways is we write shownotes for it. There’s a copy I can go back to and repurpose. I’ve even turned that into a talk—it was the genesis of my recent conference talk, It All Starts With Writing. I looked at one of the seanwes tv episodes that had a nice written outline for that, instead of having to watch an eight minute video, or however long. Those videos are just condensed versions of podcasts. It’s not that we aren’t giving a lot of value in the podcast, it’s that there’s just a lot of content here. We have thousands of words of shownotes, and that is distilled down.

In each individual medium, there’s a delivery style that’s most effective.

  • 12:44 Ben: People listen, watch, or read because they identify most with that style of delivery. Inherent in the style of delivery of a podcast is the conversation and some of the story-telling that goes along with that. You don’t want to put all of that in a video; that’s not interesting. You might expand on it or tell it differently in written format, but it’s all coming from the same place. That’s what I love about repurposing content. You have the original idea, and from that one topic, so much content can come from it. It could even look like doing a daily video show and taking that audio, because the audio is consumable in ways the video is not, but it’s still valuable content.
  • 13:47 Sean: In the chatroom Brookes says, “I just remind myself that the seanwes machine is at a place that they can do seven day output. Not quite there yet, but it doesn’t make less output inferior.” That’s a good thing to note. We’re at a point that we can do this because we have focused on one at a time. I did start one podcast at a time, I did write one blog at a time, and we’re adding things. We are going to be talking about this stuff in this and especially the next episode on optimizing, creating systems, processes, replicating that—we are at a place that we can do this, and not everyone is here. Don’t get discouraged. I really like this conversation.
  • 14:29 Laci said in response to Brookes, “Also, remember that we question our sanity on the regular.” Charli says, “People question my sanity with my output, and I’m like, ‘Guys, you don’t even know. There’s this guy called seanwes…'” Laci says, “Seriously, it’s not possible to do everything we want to do with seven full-time people, so don’t ever feel bad that you can’t do more.”

Do More of What Works

  • 15:07 At one time, you found something that was working for you. Maybe it’s related to what you’re doing, maybe it’s slightly different, maybe it’s not related—it depends on where you are in your overlap journey. Maybe you’re at a place where you’re still overlapping, and you still need to get a solid foundation in place. That foundation might be kind of like the day job; maybe it’s not the thing you like doing, but it’s something you need to be solid.

Maybe you need to go back to something that has worked for you to build up a solid foundation.

  • 15:41 Even if it’s not what you want to do full time forever, maybe something was working for you. You should go back to it and build it up.
  • 15:49 Ben: It was that way for Sean with Learn Lettering, not that he wanted to abandon it and would never come back to it, but in his mind, he was already moving forward with other things and was excited about those things. I know what it’s like to have an idea for something you really want to see come to fruition and know that you have the resources, that you could spend the time to make it happen, and then exercising restraint and saying, “Now is not the time to do those things, as much as I would really love to. I need to go back to this other thing that’s working so that I can protect those things.” It’s about doing something that you know has provided results in the past, but it’s also about protecting the things you want to do in the future from becoming the failure that causes you to stop wanting to do those kinds of things.

Squeeze Every Last Drop Out of It

  • 16:59 Sean: What has worked for you in the past and how can you do more of it? Think about that. Squeeze every last drop out of this thing. You have not maximized it. You’re not even close to having squeezed every last drop out of this thing. You’ve got to go all in on this thing.

Take what you think is maximizing and triple it—that’s how much value is left in this thing that you’ve abandoned.

  • 18:52 Sean: For the most part, most of us haven’t squeezed out every last drop. You need to go back to something that has worked. What is the best thing you have ever done? What is the thing that has gotten the best results? Maybe that’s profits, response from people writing you back, or the most people saying it’s awesome, that they love it, and that they’re getting so much out of it. Maybe it’s something as simple as things your audience is enjoying. The “likes” aren’t always an indication, but you can kind of pay attention and see what’s working for you.
  • 19:42 Charli asks, “What advice do you have for evaluating what is working when you’re just starting out and don’t have much to compare to?” In this episode, I’m talking to people who have been doing things for a long time. When I say, “Do more of what works; you’ve abandoned it and moved on,” the people I’m talking to right now know exactly what I’m talking about, and they’re thinking, “Yeah, I know what he’s saying. I did this thing and it went really well, but I stopped doing it. I moved on because I got bored, I wanted to try something else, or I thought that it did well and it probably won’t do well again.” If something did well before, it’s going to do well again.
  • 20:25 Those are the people I’m trying to reach here. You may still be in the overlap phase right now. If I say, “Do more of what works,” and you’re trying to figure out how you know what has worked, you’re probably not quite there yet. Keep going. Keep doing more of what you’re doing. Keep showing up for a couple more years, and you’re going to have that breakthrough and find something that’s working.
  • 20:55 Ben: The difficult part of this is working up to what works. Some people feel like they should be seeing results by now, and it does take a lot longer than you expect. It’s one of those things where you know, and you can feel the momentum or the effectiveness of something. Maybe you can even see the results. When you experience it and you recognize something you’re doing as one of those things, it’s good to note that and remember that. Keep a file somewhere with a list of things you know are effective that you can go back to if you need to.

Do More Than Your Competitor

  • 21:55 Sean: Out-produce them. Out-serve them. Out-deliver them. Find one area where you can just over-index. Go all in, push all your chips in on one area and kill it. Kill that one area as a way of distinguishing yourself. If they’re not writing blog posts, write blog posts. If they’re not making videos, make videos, even if you’re thinking, “Who does videos in this industry?” Find a way to make videos; you can do videos in any industry. That’s a way to set yourself apart. If they’re podcasting weekly, podcast daily. Do something that sets you apart. Go all in on something.
  • 22:53 Ben: There is a cost of doing business; you have to pay to play. If you want to be in this game, there is a minimum quality and output. Set that bar above what you see everyone in your space doing, and have the mindset that this is the cost of doing business. There are the obvious things: you have to deliver on time, fulfill your promises, meet the expectations you set, and whatever else is standard in your industry. Raise that bar a little bit, and that’s your minimum. If you do that, your competition will start to go away, because no one else is thinking that way. Most people are thinking, “What’s the minimum requirement for being a part of this industry?” That’s what they shoot for. Beyond that, you have a unique value to offer.

You are different as an individual and as a brand.

Find that difference and focus on it.

Use Your Competitive Advantage

  • 24:04 Sean: What is the thing that sets you apart? What is your unique advantage, your unique selling point? Maximize that. Milk it for all that it’s worth. Squeeze every last drop out of it. No one can replicate Ben’s literal voice. Find that thing. What is it? For me, I have the hustle, the drive, and the motivation. I could do what my younger self did, which was to think, “I don’t have to work so hard at this and I could still get by just as good as everyone else. I can wait till the last minute on my paper, my piano, I can easily coast through a lot of things because I’m disciplined enough to do whatever it takes to get by.” That’s my tendency. I’m so disciplined that I’m good at procrastinating, which sounds weird. I’m highly prone to procrastination. It’s something I have to offset.
  • 26:02 Ben: It’s because you know that you can get it done at the last minute, and not only can you get it done, but you can still do a better job than most people.
  • 26:15 Sean: I can coast through life on that, or I can use my competitive advantage to get ahead of everyone else. That’s what I do. I do more shows, more videos, more podcasts. I show up more and earlier, I write more, I produce more, I schedule more, I jam-pack it, and I get my back against the wall. That’s why people say, “It looks like you’re a machine; you put out so much.” That’s because I’m using my competitive advantage. What is yours?

What is your thing that other people don’t care about, aren’t paying attention to, or can’t do as well?

  • 27:07 Maximize that. With Learn Lettering, my competitive advantage was that I know business. A lot of artists are good at art, but they don’t know business, which means that they get taken advantage of, they can’t charge what they’re worth, and ultimately, that prevents them from making a living doing what they love to do. My competitive advantage is that I spent 9,000 hours getting good at the skill, and I also have the business knowledge to back it up. I create a hybrid of that, which is something no one can compete with. What other person out there has spent nearly 10,000 hours at hand lettering and has also produced hundreds of podcasts on business? You can’t copy or replicate that; it’s my competitive advantage, my unfair advantage, and I’m leveraging it and milking it for all that it’s worth.
  • 28:02 Ben: Backing up to something we said earlier, don’t feel like you have to keep up with everything that somebody really prolific like Sean is doing. Even in your industry, don’t look at people who are far ahead of you, who have infrastructure and teams built, and try to match what they’re doing. It’s about taking what you can do and making the most of that. Don’t look at everybody else. Say, “What can I do?”
  • 28:42 If you are blogging weekly or daily and people are responding to that and you’re getting really good conversation, you might see everybody else doing video and feel like you need to get into the video thing. Not so fast! If that blog is really working for you and that’s what you’ve got the bandwidth for, and if doing video or anything else at this time would take away from the thing that is effective for you, focus on that. Let that continue to drive and grow your business to where you can take on video, podcasts, or something else, without harming your business or your growth.
  • 29:28 Sean: It depends on how long of a game you want to play. People say that I’m ruining them for other podcasts because we really do care about the quality. As much as we try to infuse some personality into this, you can’t please everyone. We get emails from people saying that they would love to have more conversational episodes, that they like the personality stuff. Other people say, “You guys ramble and it takes too long to get to the point.” I’m thinking, “Please tell me the other podcasts you’re listening to that are rambling less than us, because I want to subscribe to them.” Ben and I have to balance our delivery of value in this podcast in a way that’s not robotic.
  • 31:05 I can give you all of the bullet points and strip all of the energy, passion, and personality out of it, but that’s not going to be a fun show. That’s not going to be enjoyable; that’s not going to make you want to listen to us. You’re only going to want to listen to us if you like us, and you’re only going to like us if you get to know us. We have to infuse our personality into it. Believe it our not, as effortless as this show hopefully sounds, we are very conscious about that balance and infusing personality into this show: what you hear at the beginning, what we cut out, what we include in the pre-show vs. what I intentionally include in the show on the recorded podcast. All of that is very purposeful.
  • 31:50 What we talk about, what we share that may not be on the actual topic, is purposeful and intentional. For some people, that’s not their thing, and that’s fine. We can’t please everyone. We have to leverage not only wanting to show up and deliver value to people consistently, but also our complimentary personalities. We have a good vibe going on here, and it’s fun to play off of that a little bit.
  • 32:22 It’s fun to have real conversations and infuse that personality into it. There’s different kinds of value. There’s objective, what’s going to actually make me money in my business value, and then there’s value that’s just entertainment. There’s value that saves you time and tools that solve problems, but entertainment is also a kind of value that shouldn’t be diminished. If you don’t believe me, look at the apps on your iPhone home screen. If you look at it, you will see what is valuable to you, and you’ll find things that solve problems, as well as things that entertain you.
  • 33:49 We are purposefully trying to make this an entertaining, valuable, addicting show with real people that you feel like you can connect with. We had a meetup with about 50 people; some of them were Community members, some of them were just podcast listeners, but we could just go right into it and start. We feel like there’s a connection here already. We’re on the same page; we have a spring board, and that’s because we do allow our personality to come in. I think that’s one of our competitive advantages, Ben. There are a lot of podcasts that are kind of awkward and lifeless, so us doing our thing is a way of leveraging that.
  • 34:36 Ben: For the personality we infuse into this show and the topics we cover, we are optimizing this show for the content and the way our personalities play off of each other. Sean doing a solo show based on his personality and the subject he’s talking about may look completely different. There are quality standards that have to do with the audio and the presentation, how it displays on your website, but then there’s also the quality that has to do with being true to your audience, your topic, and your personality.

As a way of maximizing, always be seeking to improve and get closer to what your show, blog, or video should really be.

  • 35:33 One of the ways you can do that is to ask questions to people you admire who have the same kind of style and are in the same industry. Sean and I listen back to ourselves to hear our delivery. Now that I have my own show, I’m way more aware of the places where I have a tendency to not speak as clearly as I would like to or express my thoughts as well as I would like to. I’m learning to tighten those things up, but my attitude is that I want to continue to improve versus wanting to just be “good enough.”
  • 36:20 At a certain level of quality, you can say that it’s good enough. If we brought the quality of this show down 40%, for the industry we’re in and the kind of listeners we have, it would still be good enough, but we’re not content with good enough. Never be content; continue to focus on growing and improving where you can. Let that be your mindset, and what will result from that will be far beyond industry standards. It’s going to remove you from your competition and you’ll set a quality precedent that people will really appreciate.

There’s More You Can Do

  • 37:04 Sean: Eric in the chat says, “Could squeezing every last drop out of something suck the life out of it? Personally, I’m nervous about continuing to push my Optimist story, even though it worked better and resonated way more than anything else I’ve made.” Eric, you have not even gotten close to maximizing this—not even a fraction of one, which I told you to triple in order to maximize this to the capacity that you need to. There are 20 people in the Community chat room right now that don’t know about the Optimist video. People don’t notice announcements; they notice consistency. You’re nowhere close, Eric. I follow you on Instagram, but I follow 70 people on Instagram. How many of you listening follow hundreds? I follow 70, and that’s not very much. I’ve barely noticed it, and I probably only saw it, honestly, because my brother Cory edited it for you. When I say to do more, I’m not saying to spam up this video.
  • 39:25 Find ways to tell your story. I’m going to give Eric a shout out because I gave him a bunch of the fire. Eric’s apartment burned down and he lost everything. He had to grab something and leave, and then it was all gone. He made this video called Optimist to talk about what that experience was like and how he’s not letting it affect his perception.
  • 40:06 Ben: I think he went back to try to recover some things, and he found the lettering piece he had made, Optimist, that had survived somehow.
  • 40:30 Sean: You have not done enough with this, Eric. There should be another video of you talking about why you made a video about this, there should be a video about why you made that video, and then write a blog post about it and reach out to some people.
  • 41:00 Ben: There’s what Sean is saying about consistency and the Magic of 7. I’ve followed Eric in a couple of places and I’ve seen him be pretty consistent with this, and I’m still not tired of hearing about it. If you have something like Optimist, where you’re telling this story that’s part of your lifestyle and mantra that your audience connects with, another way to milk that and squeeze value out of it is to find other ways to express that. It’s not just the video or the one thing you did, but it’s the feeling of connection that created in your audience. You can continue to use that and run with it. Find other ways to express Optimist. Maybe you could talk to other artists or people you know who have gone through similar things, and you can bring those stories into it and make it a part of a video series that you do.
  • 42:24 Sean: He says, “It’s just the fear that I need to overcome; the fear of being a broken record.”

Don’t spam and you won’t become a broken record.

Find new ways and new mediums to tell a story.

  • 42:35 I’ll bring in a question from Wouter here. He says, “Is maximizing something you should do continuously or periodically? For instance, creating a new version of Learn Lettering every 2 years?” Doing more of what works in my case meant redoing Learn Lettering. I had so much more information that could make it better. I had feedback, a video of production, I’m a better teacher now, and I have better delivery, so that meant making a new version of it and adding 50% more content.
  • 43:14 A year or two years from now, I may not necessarily want to make a new version of Learn Lettering. I’m proud of it, and I think this one will stand the test of time much better. This one will remain to be relevant for years to come. Does that mean there’s nothing else to do there? Of course not. I could do so many things. I could reach out to people who teach art and teach a class where I could promote Learn Lettering, or write a blog post for them, or add new modules, or just write more stories, make new videos. There’s so much I could do to promote that other than making a new version of it.
  • 43:54 Ben: Learn Lettering itself becomes a case study for something Sean wants to do in the future, which is teaching people how to launch successful courses. There are endless possibilities for what he could continue to do with that content.