How To Make Difficult Decisions

My next book 3 Billion Under 30 shares the intimate stories of seventy-five industry-leading Millennials ranging from the founder of WordPress to the two-time defending “Fittest Woman In The World”, Snapchat megastars like Shonduras, and many others. Even after my first book was published by a traditional publisher and became the “#1 Entrepreneurship Book of 2015” according to Axiom Business Book Awards, sold thousands of copies its first weeks, and has been translated into three other languages outside of English, I’m making the seemingly difficult decision of “professionally self-publishing” this next book.

This post attempts to provide you with a framework for making difficult decisions in life, whether deciding how to publish a book, what career path to take, or even whether or not to cut ties with a toxic family member. I describe my thought process, outline our launch plan for the release of 3 Billion Under 30, and call “BS” on my own ego…Enjoy!

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How I Lost A Few “IQ” Points As A “Gifted” Child:

My family loves to tell me how I got “dumber” during my first IQ test.

In the school district where I grew up, there was the option to enroll your child in “gifted” classes in elementary school if they scored high enough on an intelligence test in kindergarten. The promise to parents was that these groups of students would be fast-tracked to honors classes in middle and high school, leading to higher chances of getting into better colleges. Like any loving parents, mine decided there was nothing to lose and got me toddler tested.

I scored really high and earned placement into these gifted classes. However, there was one question on the test that I got “wrong” simply because I made a different decision than most, even though I could properly rationalize my choice and it wasn’t necessarily incorrect, but rather a unique way of looking at the world.

I was shown pictures of vegetables and asked to pick all the green-colored vegetables. In front of me were snapshots of three “green” options and one carrot. Instead of leaving the carrot out of the green reunion, I noted that all the vegetables had the color green in them because the carrot top itself was green and therefore qualified the orange vegetable.

In short, I lost a few “IQ points” because of a reasonable, yet unorthodox decision, and while I technically wasn’t wrong, in a world of standards and precedents, I was penalized for my decision.

No College, No Job, No Problem:

Fast forward to today. If you introduced me based on what society deems to be smart decision-making (i.e. get a college degree, find a high-paying corporate job, take out a mortgage as quickly as possible to earn equity in a home, etc), I wouldn’t pass your parents’ test as a friend.

I’m 21 and never went to college. I don’t hold a job with a prestigious company, and I hardly own anything. No car. No house. No rent. No more than three weeks’ worth of clothes.

Society would judge me as a bad decision-maker. I see it as “difficult” decision-making that has led me at an accelerated rate into the life I want to lead.

I’ve already started one successful company, Kleinert Ventures, where I consult #1 New York Times bestselling authors, Fortune 500 companies, and VC-backed startups on product launches and overall marketing strategy. As mentioned in the intro, I’ve coauthored and published one award-winning book that’s shelved all over the world and has sold thousands of copies. I’ve given TED talks and can now charge $10,000 as a keynote speaker to travel around the world and speak to conferences, colleges, and corporations. More importantly, I have a network of friends, influencers, and mentors who deeply care about my success and well-being, and I’ve created incredible optionality for my future to start new businesses, create wealth, and invest in interesting life experiences.

It’s because of the seemingly “difficult” decisions I’ve made that I am able to achieve exponential success and impact as opposed to making “safer” choices that would actually be detrimental to my future, but seem “by the book” to others around me.

Before We Go Any Further:

I’m about to share my thoughts on doing work that matters vs. doing work that pays the bills, as well as planning product launches, and overcoming ego when it wants to sabotage your success.

All of these thoughts will come through the personal example of planning the launch of my next book, but could be studied and applied to any decision in your life that seems difficult to you. Even if you are not an author or entrepreneur, these musings may be useful to you in some way…

With that, I share a few caveats before getting into the bulk of my braindump.  

General Caveats:

  • There are some cases where “success” for you will require a more traditional path, like becoming a lawyer, doctor, or dentist. That being said, there are ways to accelerate your career and life even if traditional decisions are necessary to make. Some of the contributors in my next book have made exponential jumps in their careers in the “traditional” worlds of politics and corporate ladder-climbing (and you can too).
  • This article assumes you want a lifestyle, career, or other results that deviate from the norm. If you are OK with status quo, then by all means stay where you are. However, if you are reading this, there’s a good chance you are not happy with where you are in life, and/or you are growth-minded and want to continue developing new skills, advancing your career, and developing your decision-making abilities.

Caveats To Consider If You Are Writing A Book:

  • Traditional publishing still makes sense for some authors. For example, if you’re a “seven-figure” author (meaning traditional publishers will pay you $1M+ in an advance to publish your book), are a career writer (all you do is write books), and/or make almost all your money through speaking and have data to prove that writing a traditionally-published book will increase your speaking fees considerably, then you should still consider working with one of the big publishing houses.
  • Our book has a unique format that involves contributors sharing first-person stories that range from two to five pages in length. By having so many influential contributors, we have potential distribution to tens of millions of people without the help of a traditional publisher or the discovery outlets their industry relies on to sell books.

Aligning Mission And Money:

If you ask most Millennials, they’ll tell you one of their goals is to live a meaningful life. It isn’t enough for us to have lucrative careers. Rather, we want to align our work with whatever causes we care about and problems we seek to solve.

This is admirable, yet few of us actually make it possible to do this while making it equally profitable.

My mission is two-fold. I want to get as people as possible to act on their passions in life, and then unite in solving the world’s most pressing problems.

To continue this mission, I’ve enlisted seventy-five entrepreneurs, professional athletes, entertainers, writers, philanthropists, social media influencers, and others to share their formative life experiences and practical knowledge in my second book 3 Billion Under 30.

My first book book, 2 Billion Under 20, had a similar mission, but because we went with a traditional publisher, all financial incentive to share the stories in our first book disappeared after the first few weeks of publication. The publishers owned the content, made all the money with each copy sold, and didn’t care about our mission like we did (their job is to sell books across hundreds, if not thousands, of titles each year, and so their big “mission” is to generate sales regardless of the author whose books sell the most).

By “professionally self-publishing” 3 Billion Under 30, I align our mission with money. I can apply industry-leading marketing strategy to the book’s launch and sales over time because I control all aspects of the process. Every time I sell a book, I make money, and therefore I’ll be indefinitely incentivized to share the stories of individuals who have invested their time and energy into helping me carry out my mission.

For most people, however, this isn’t the first “decision” that is considered, even though you could make the argument that it is the most important (after all, why are you writing a book in the first place?). In fact, traditional publishers are usually considered due to an author’s lack of “product” knowledge (how to make the book), ego (dreaming of hitting a credible bestsellers list), or because it is simply the standard path.

All of these are bad ways to make important decisions.

Here’s a better way.

Ask yourself, “What are my goals business-wise? Mission-wise?”

For the sake of not duplicating thoughts on the Interwebs when possible, check out bestselling author Tucker Max’s article on reasons for writing (and not writing) a book.

It is possible to align purpose and profit once you are clear on your answers to the questions mentioned above. Elon Musk runs SpaceX to make humans multi-planetary as a way to avoid existential crises, and also to make money. TOMS Shoes helps those in need while also operating as a for-profit company.

In both cases, and almost all others, where the purpose-profit alignment is clear, the companies actually make more money, have better culture, and mean far more to their customers then if they solely operated to drive a mission or to make money.

Simply put, I see this new publishing model as the best way to make this change in my business, and I have an obligation to myself and all those who have contributed to the 3 Billion Under 30 mission to put financial incentive behind our work as much as possible.

As a funny literary “wink” to all my techie friends, I’ll break down the specific benefits of “professional self-publishing” in our case using the concept of “Product/Market Fit.”

Product (Or “Why Our Book Is Better Without A Publisher”):

For all the Product/Market Fit notes below, James Altucher wrote many resourceful blog posts in the past (including “Publishing 3.0: How To Self-Publish A Bestseller”) that I don’t want to copycat.

However, to add my own unique thoughts to his work, when it comes to the actual product, a better book is possible without publishers than with them.

Printing:

From the printing standpoint, did you know that most traditional publishing companies don’t actually own the physical machines that print the books you read? Turns out they all work with “offset printers” like Bang Publishing, a group that has been around since 1899, and you can become a direct customer of these offset printers. This means I can get the same exact hardcover books printed as we did for 2 Billion Under 20.

In fact, as we set the specs for our first print run of books from Bang Publishing, I literally shipped them a copy of my first book and asked them to copy the printing dimensions for my second book, ensuring I’d have the same exact quality hardcover book!  

When most people self-publish, they usually use a “print on demand” (POD) service like Amazon CreateSpace, but the physical book isn’t as impressive when in your hands, and I opted for higher upfront costs to ensure the quality of 3 Billion Under 30 from a printing standpoint. Plus, when you start selling tens of thousands of books, it is actually cheaper to order full print runs from a group like Bang Publishing than pay per book copy with a POD service that only charges you when an order is placed for your book, but then has to take a larger cut per copy.

Many groups like Bang Publishing also have fulfillment services, so it is a two-for-one shop.

Traditional publishers normally print “galleys” for you as well, or early reader editions of your book to send to press, influencers, and perhaps subjects of your research if you write nonfiction business books like I do. By “professionally self-publishing” I can forgo the costs associated with printing these books and instead simply send digital copies of the early reader edition to everyone.

Digitally, it is possible to track open rates of emails and PDFs that contain the early reader edition of your book, helping you better follow up with any press or personalities who you’ve sent this to. Plus, there’s virtually no costs involved, so you can send as many of these copies to people as you’d like, and do so on a rolling basis as you build new relationships and receive requests from media to review your book. Finally, the turnaround time is much shorter. I will have digital galleys out to my network in less than forty-eight hours after sending the final files for the manuscript to Bang Publishing.

Editing:

In James Altucher’s blog post that I linked to above, he mentioned almost all the service providers he used for his book Choose Yourself, published in almost entirely the same fashion I’m sharing with you. He used a group called Command+Z Content, and so are we.

In addition, I’ve also hired my friend Talia Koren to edit the manuscript with me as an additional resource to Command+Z Content and our contributors. Talia used to recruit all the contributors to Elite Daily and then edited all their first drafts of articles they wished to publish on the media platform. She was also a staff writer responsible for churning out anywhere from four to eight articles every day, many of which garnered hundreds of thousands of views, and so now that she’s a “free agent”, I hired her immediately to improve our product.

The “big picture” thought on editing is to note that most traditional publishers don’t employ the top editors anymore. The best people in the industry have started their own firms like Command+Z Content. They are freelancers who work for various types of projects, or work in other areas of the industry like fast-growing media companies or single author blogs written by influential individuals. Ten years ago, publishers had a stronghold on literary talent. Now they don’t, and you can exploit the difference by recruiting and hiring talent outside of the traditional publishing model.

Design:

Similar to editors, the best designers are not working for traditional publishers anymore.

With 2 Billion Under 20, part of our advance was spent on hiring an industry-leading designer in Erin Tyler, who has clients ranging from Tucker Max,Ryan Holiday, James Altucher, Charlie Hoehn, and other leading authors. She made an amazing cover for us, and yet we ultimately had a cover battle with our own traditional publishing company because they felt the designs made by their in-house junior designer was better.

Worse still, they backed their decision with no data, and we lost out on hard-earned money and an amazing cover while losing goodwill with our own publishers.

This time around, we control the design process and are working with Something Simon, an award-winning agency that’s done client work for Nissan, Disney, Hasbro, almost every major sporting league, Starwood Hotels, Animal Planet, and a slew of other household brands. Not only does Andrea Simon, one of the 3 Billion Under 30 book contributors and founder of the company, lead incredible design teams, but she also understands how design fits into business goals, marketing campaigns, and brand-building efforts in the long term, all of which are things most authors don’t consider when creating a book cover and brand concept. Certainly traditional publishers won’t care about these things unless you’re an author they’ve invested millions of dollars into. Their goal is selling one title. Your goal is building a brand or company.

Speed:

All of our product development is happening much faster without traditional publishers. They normally have hundreds of titles each year to manage, and so their full-time staff isn’t working full-time on your book. By owning the process, 3 Billion Under 30 is being worked on by some members of our team comprising of contractors, part-time team members, and full-time team members at almost every hour of the day.

In the future, I’ll be able to make editing changes in between print runs of the book to constantly improve upon the book itself as we hear back from readers. With design, we can create branded assets for social media, print media, and other marketing outlets in record time rather than being placed in the backlog of work most traditional publishers process.

Faster product development means our book will get in readers’ hands more quickly, accelerating our potential for purpose and profit.

Market (or “How NOT To Leave Money On The Table”):

If you approach a publisher with a nonfiction book proposal, the first thing they will look for is whether or not you have a “platform.”

For the uninitiated, platform simply means, “how will you be able to sell your book?”

You see, traditional publishers don’t really do much marketing for you. It is up to you to sell books. For 3 Billion Under 30, I have set a lofty goal for our team of selling 100,000 copies in 2017, and yet I do not have a traditional platform of a large email list, well-followed social media accounts, or popular television show to lend me celebrity.

Instead, I have access to the potential distribution that comes with the influence of all our book contributors. Combined, the seventy-five people in my book total over 50,000,000 social media followers. Many of them run large media companies, and others have sizeable email lists. Outside of our contributor base, there are hundreds of “influencers” with deep ties to those featured, and since we control all the marketing and business development behind the book, we can deploy top marketing strategies from various industries in order to sell as many copies of this book as possible.

Here’s a look into some of our marketing campaigns.

Partnerships:

In order to sell 100,000 copies of 3 Billion Under 30, we must drive millions of impressions to our sales pages. Without a platform of our own, this requires working with other sources of traffic such as partners in order to supplement our traffic needs.

This isn’t a new concept among top authors. Typically, most people write books that will only leverage their platform during book promotion. Smart authors find a way to share the same content (and make a better product in the process) by involving other individuals or organizations with platforms of their own into the book itself, which in turn makes for better marketing success.

Ryan Holiday talks about this in one of his Medium posts (scroll down to “Distribution & Marketing as his post takes 18 minutes to read in full). Tim Ferriss interviewed over 200 world-class performers for his podcast which contributed to one of the best shows on the Internet and also built his blog to 100M downloads. Now he’s about to release a book that’s most likely going to be world-class and sell extremely well because he baked his marketing into his product by including the ideas of celebrities like Arnold schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, and Seth Rogin as well as your standard business leaders and bestselling authors. Tony Robbins interviewed twelve billionaires and financial geniuses for his latest book, which resulted in a curation of leading financial knowledge and (you guessed it!) more books sold.

How are we building partnerships?

First, we have a Partner Program where we’re inviting about 200 of our favorite bloggers, podcasters, and friends to help promote the book in exchange for commission on every copy sold through each partner’s unique link. In the internet marketing and “information product” world, this would be similar to an affiliate program, but in our case we are building an exclusive community for all our partners so they can network, collaborate, and share best practices for their marketing efforts.

Not only that, but since the launch team behind 3 Billion Under 30 has operated book launches for multiple #1 NYT bestselling authors, led almost a dozen six and seven figure product launches, and have built email lists with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, we are actually going to provide training and resources to all of our partners for free in order to help them sell more books, but also to build their own personal brands, subject matter expertise, and platforms of their own. It’s a total win-win-win.

For our high level partners like individuals with 50,000 or more people on their email list, media companies, or social media influencers with millions of followers, we are able to make custom partnerships to increase revenue-share and provide custom landing pages, optin offers, lead magnets, email marketing funnels, picture and video assets, design, and whatever else a partner would want in exchange for their time and promotional efforts.

Traditional publishers wouldn’t think to allow their authors to build these sort of partnerships because the cost of creating product is too expensive to leave healthy margins available for these type of arrangements. Also, most traditional publishers don’t have these relationships that you’re able to build quickly on your own, and they don’t understand have mechanisms for tracking sales from partners since they use traditional distribution channels like bookstores or Amazon that don’t easily allow you to create unique partner links, landing pages, marketing funnels, and other necessary online assets to operate such a Partner Program.

If you think about our mission too, we know our impact would be smaller if we tried to launch 3 Billion Under 30 on our own. In fact, 3 Billion Under 30 is built off the importance of collaboration and diversity in voices, influences, and experiences. If you believe this to be true as well, then you’re already aware of how impactful this book will be to individual readers, and understand how important it is to get this book in the hands of as many creators, thinkers, and doers as possible. Developing partnerships is crucial to our marketing strategy.

(If you’re an influencer whose audience would find value in 3 Billion Under 30, we’d love to collaborate with you!)

Social Media:

Much of our launch-specific social media marketing strategy can be found in “Partnerships” as we will be working with our book contributors and the influencers that care about them to distribute 3 Billion Under 30 to their combined social media followings.

The only thing to add is that partnerships with social media influencers will be less about how we can train them to be more influential, and more about letting them create the content, story, and promotions they’d like. Our team understands that this isn’t our strong suit, and the influencers I am close with have lamented to me in private when brands have attempted to tell them how to create their own content for their specific audiences. You’ll get better results by letting content creators do what they do best, and actually encourage them to do this.  

Outside of partnerships, we plan to launch a few social media marketing campaigns designed around storytelling and optimized for sharing.

Overall, the backbone of our social media marketing decisions right now is choosing to build exponential campaigns first, and then “evergreen” campaigns around March or April of 2017, after the book’s big launch period, to sell the book indefinitely over time. However, if our goal is to sell 100,000 books next year, we need to think exponentially in regards to our launch so we can drive the type of traffic we will need in order to accomplish our sales goals.

Press and Earned Media:

Typical of most promotional efforts, we will pitch as many press and earned media outlets as possible.

With podcasts, I am recording as many interviews in October and November of this year as possible, and asking that all shows air our episodes the week of launch. I’m also attempting to screen what shows I go on, only spending time on shows with considerable per-episode download rates.

With blogs and media outlets, we will create a backlog of “angles” to pitch the book itself as well as all our individual contributors. This way, we can not only reach out to mass publications, but also industry-specific blogs, shows, and newsletters that may have smaller, but more passionate fan bases.

In order to create as big of a story as possible, we will ask all journalists and bloggers to cover us on the week of book launch, and then leverage major articles to pitch even more outlets and follow up with unresponsive individuals while our story is gaining traction in order to garner further coverage.

The above is typical launch stuff.

What’s unique is that we will track each piece of media coverage we earn in order to see what coverage actually converts into sales. We can do this because we aren’t driving traffic to a bookstore or Amazon, but rather to our own sales pages, allowing us to see who visits our site and who becomes a book buyer.

After our launch, we will be able to put in place evergreen content marketing,PR strategies to pitch, and create the same type of articles that converted best sales-wise during our launch period. Again, our launch is important, but the big opportunity for us is in selling 3 Billion Under 30 indefinitely since the financial incentive will be in our favor and not in the hands of traditional publishers.

As important as having a big launch is, it is also a great testing grounds for what will sell books over the long haul.

Paid Advertising:

Traditional publishers only run paid ads during launch windows for the books they invest the most money into acquiring. Even in these rare cases, these organizations don’t have paid ad experts in-house that can create actual campaigns around customer acquisition, develop smart split-testing to constantly improve upon the conversion rates of the ads they are running, and are hesitant to advertise on newer platforms like Snapchat where they really have no experience.

Similar to everything above, we can go find the best experts available to hire or otherwise partner with in order to run our paid advertising campaigns.

Given our book’s inclusion of individuals with major social media followings of their own, we can go so far as to make two to four (or any number) of variations of ads targeted to the followings of each contributor, and then multiply that by all the contributors in 3 Billion Under 30. With enough manpower on our end, we could easily create and test over 300 different ad sets if we were ambitious enough, and continue reinvesting money into the ads that perform the best, continuously tweaking and refining our copy, positioning, and offering to drive down our cost per customer acquired (CAC) and increase our profit.

As long as our CAC is lower than the lifetime value (LTV) of each new reader, we can run paid ads and get to 100,000 books sold even if we never developed a single partnership or created organic traffic sources for ourselves.

It is important to get as much organic traffic as possible because it is cheaper (or free) and can inform or complement our paid advertising strategy, but this alone is a big marketing differentiator that traditional publishers haven’t really figured out yet.

“Evergreen” Content And Business Development:

The term “evergreen” is a buzzword in the internet marketing world, but essentially it means anything that you do once that sells for you over time.

Content creation can be evergreen if you have a great SEO strategy and create great articles, videos, guides, and more. Our Partner Program can be considered evergreen if we constantly keep the same number of engaged partners or even recruit more people to sell 3 BIllion Under 30 over time. Our social media marketing strategy will switch from one-time campaigns to creating growth of our accounts over time and driving traffic back to our sales pages in systemic fashion after Q1 of 2017 when our “launch” concludes.

Even our paid advertising strategy will change to drive new traffic consistently and “initiate” new customers by offering them free and valuable content, engaging them through our email marketing efforts, and then selling the book to them rather than running ads to our sales page directly. This will allow us to build relationships with our book buyers and decrease CAC because we aren’t pushing people to buy in a specific window of time.

Again, being incentivized to sell in “evergreen” fashion is the biggest difference in our traditionally published book at this next book. We’ve now put the financial incentive in our favor to sell 3 Billion Under 30 over the long haul rather than only attempting to share the stories of our book contributors during the first month of the book’s release and then having to go back to other obligations in order to pay bills, grow businesses where there’s more financial incentive, and otherwise continue looking for alignment in our purpose and profit.

Email Marketing (converting traffic into sales):

Driving all this traffic to our sales pages instead of retailers or online outlets like Amazon won’t help us unless we have a plan in place for converting our site’s visitors into book buyers.

Enter Robert Klubenspies. Robert was the COO of the online businesses of a well-known eight-time New York Times bestselling author and currently works with a couple other New York Times bestselling authors and high-performing entrepreneurs when not creating the marketing automation, drip email campaigns, landing pages, funnels, and other technical components of the 3 Billion Under 30 book launch.

It is my job and that of most people on our team to get as much traffic as possible to our various optin pages and segments of our email list. It is then Robert’s job to develop the strategy with which to engage leads and convert them into customers during the week of launch.

When someone signs up on our various email lists (quite possibly in exchange for a “lead magnet”, or a free guide, checklist, or value-providing collection of content we are sharing with them), we will send them a few automated emails introducing them to the mission and vision behind 3 Billion Under 30 and share a little bit of my personal story with them.

In fact, there’s a good chance you’re reading this article because it is linked to in the third email our Partners receive and the fourth email almost everyone else receives when they begin following 3 Billion Under 30.

These “indoctrination sequences” are important because they give people context for why they should care about our work, and what value they should expect to receive from us in the future.

After they go through those automated emails, everyone will receive “live” emails from me once or twice a week. These emails only serve to add value to the reader, and serve as another great opportunity for us to align purpose and profit by being able to shine light on the work our book contributors are doing. It is another win-win-win, and over time we won’t just have “leads” for our book-selling efforts, but individuals who’ve joined our movement.

Viral Loops:

Ever notice how Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Dropbox, and other companies provide you with unique links and incentives to share it? This is how they build viral loops, which are marketing campaigns usually baked into the product and/or purchasing experience that attempt to get each customer to onboard one or more new customers with every transaction.

We are going to attempt viral loops through our “thank you” page and post-purchase “indoctrination sequence”, as well as through a page in 3 Billion Under 30 itself and elsewhere throughout our marketing efforts.

For the “thank you” page, after someone buys 3 Billion Under 30 in January 2017 and thereafter, each new customer will be sent to a landing page where they can optionally share the book on social media in exchange for a free audiobook and about twenty uncut video and audio recordings of interviews that led to the book’s creation.

The goal is to get every customer to share the book enough that they earn us at least one or more new customers. If each transaction brings us two new customers, then we would have created a viral loop by which our sales will increase exponentially.

Fit (or “Why books are really just our gateway drugs”):

I’ve already alluded to this briefly, but at the end of the day, I really don’t just want to sell books.

By taking ownership of the entire publishing process, I’ll end up with not only more profit by using the most advanced marketing and business development strategies possible, or enlisting the services of various subject matter experts along the way, but I’ll actually be able to talk to our readers.

Traditional publishers sell books through retailers and online outlets like Amazon. In all cases, they give up the customer data associated with book sales, more specifically email addresses and names.

If our mission is to get as many people as possible to act on their passions, and then unite them in solving the world’s most pressing problems, then eventually I’m going to need a direct line of communication to as many engaged, ambitious, eager Millennials as possible. After they’ve read 3 Billion Under 30, I want to know who these readers are so we can continue serving them with high-quality content and solutions to their problems.

Most marketers want this information for immediate “upsells”.

I’m sure you’ve seen this before. “Buy this book, and then purchase our thousand dollar course as well.”

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Upsells are important, but sleazy sales are not of interest to us. 3 Billion Under 30 is a long-term game. There is no course that is being sold in January in addition to the book. Instead, we see the book as one resource we can provide in a lifetime of information-sharing and empowerment.

For book sales, customer data surely helps. It will allow us to run smarter marketing campaigns in the future where we can target the people who could benefit most from our product. Not only is this good for business as our marketing will, over time, produce more revenue and speak to people more likely to share our content, but it’s in line with our mission as well.

Using customer data, we will have leverage to invite relevant thought leaders to speak to our customers and those who follow 3 Billion Under 30 to provide the resources we cannot alone as one organization. We will also be able to speak directly to you and ask what you wish to learn, what problems you have, and which industries you want us to have a presence in moving forward. Then it will be up to us to work with our network of book contributors and industry leaders to make solutions for you, whether in the form of new companies or campaigns, books or other content, or partnerships that provide exclusive or easy access to the services you need to become world-class at what you do.

Consider This Checklist As You Make Difficult Decisions:

Whether or not you’re an author or entrepreneur, hopefully the first 5,000 or so words of this mega-post have opened your eyes to the level of thought needed to provide your own friends, customers, and individuals in your life with value, care, and engagement.

The following is less of a braindump of our tactics for the book launch specifically and more of a general checklist to follow as you make difficult decisions.

#1 – See Who Else Has Made Similar Decisions

When I decided not to go to college, it was in part because many reputable thought leaders spoke out against its validity.

The Thiel Fellowship, Uncollege, Enstitute, and other programs showed there was an alternate for some of our generation’s outliers.

I looked for alternate paths by seeking council from those who had made similar choices and succeeded, not opinions from those who’d never considered a different path and therefore had tradition (and their choice to abide by it) to protect.

In my career, my family and mentors showed me that entrepreneurship would be the right path for me, especially creating a “solopreneur” type consulting path that would allow me to work with high level individuals and pay the bills in only 20% of my working time while investing the remaining 80% of my hours into longer-term projects like 2 Billion Under 20 and 3 Billion Under 30 that would take years to network, build, and ultimately develop into a sustainable and scalable business.

Between reading the 4 Hour Work Week, attending some events from marketing legend Eben Pagan, and working for a VC-backed startup since sixteen, I soon realized that no one cares about your degree so long as you get the job done. There are ways to build network, skills, and companies that don’t require traditional paths or prerequisites.

All of this I learned from studying the successes and mistakes of others before jumping into similar difficult-seeming decisions myself.

#2 – Seek Subject Matter Expertise

In addition to studying those who made similar decisions, other information can be sought out to protect the downside of difficult decisions should you continue your pursuit of them upon further review. For me, this additional knowledge almost always comes in the form of mentorship or consulting with people who have deep knowledge on very specific questions or factors I’m still considering.

You can see this in the consciousness of our marketing plan for the book launch. Not only did I studying those who have made similar “professional self-publishing” moves in the past like Tucker Max, James Altucher, Kamal Ravikant, Taylor Pearson, and others, but I also then sought out the specific experts for email marketing, or paid advertising, or design.

With each new conversation comes the opportunity to solidify your stance on a pending decision, or change it because you are unsure that the bet you’re making is worthwhile.

#3 – Lose Your Ego And Make Your Decision Scientifically

Even after gaining all this knowledge on the industry and being in a position to reasonably bet on which decisions are best for you, our egos get in the way of us executing those difficult decisions.

For me, it means giving up the possibility of making a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or USA Today bestsellers list for at least the first half of 2017, if not forever, in order to pursue meaningful sales and collect customer data. Only sales registered through retailers and Amazon count for those lists, all of which have complicated algorithms behind selecting who gets featured, and while I’d love to be on those lists personally, it is more important for 3 Billion Under 30 to speak to as many potential readers as possible and be in a position to provide those people with as much value in the future as possible.

Also, in order to finance the team I hired and the first print run for the book, I needed to raise a small amount of money from family and friends. My ego hated this idea because I’ve never asked for help financially in my adult life. From a numbers perspective, it was an intelligent business decision because I only need to hit five percent of our sales goal for the book in order to pay everyone back.

BONUS: Build Yourself A “Safety Net” By Increasing Optionality

The good thing about making difficult decisions is that almost none of them are irreversible or everlasting. If you’re stuck on what to decide regarding your education, career, or other situation involving a seemingly difficult decision (like whether or not to go with a traditional publisher as an author), always defaulting to decisions that increase your optionality.

By creating something like 3 Billion Under 30, I’m building hundreds of deep relationships with influential individuals who would hire me in a heartbeat or otherwise refer me to new opportunities should I ever have issues with money or need a job.

Instead of skipping school outright, I took two gap years. These were time periods where I tested other decisions, but could have reverted back to being a student at any point in time.

By becoming a solopreneur or consultant rather than being an employee to one company, you allow yourself the option to work with multiple companies and earn multiple contracts or income streams rather than relying on one organization to cut your paycheck.

Launching a book in a way that doesn’t rely on sales in a specific window of time and financially incentivizes its author to sell copies indefinitely provides optionality for how and when to sell product.

What Difficult Decisions Are You Facing:

It’s your turn.

Take this article and turn it into an action plan of your own for deciding upon a difficult decision in your life and executing that choice.

The opposite of increasing optionality is crippling yourself through indecision. Every day you don’t act, the opportunity to make a difficult decision wisely and effectively becomes more challenging, and less rewarding.

I’d love to hear what you’re dealing with, so feel free to email me directly at jared@3billionunder30.com. Also, if you’re curious to see how this marketing plan will play out as 3 Billion Under 30 is being released to the public in January 2017, then check out 3billionunder30.com and sign up for our email list to keep getting more free and valuable resources.

I look forward to helping you make more difficult decisions.

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