Work With What You've Got

Posted by on July 18, 2011

The Monday Morning Memo for July 18 2011

A 20 year-old kid walks the streets in Oklahoma. Married. No money. Works construction by day, changes tapes in an automated radio station from 1AM to 11AM each Saturday morning for $3.35 an hour. No microphone. No one will know if he’s doing a good job because station management is at home fast asleep.
Frankly, the kid is a goober.

The broken-down little radio station is ranked dead last in a city of 23 stations. Just one radio listener in 200 will ever tune in to listen to the radio preachers this station airs. The ratings book says that only 18,000 people will spend 5 minutes or more listening to his station each week and there will rarely be more than 500 people listening at any given moment. The city is home to nearly a million people.

But 500 people sounds like a lot to the goober and it occurs to him that 18,000 would fill Skelly Stadium at the University of Tulsa. “If a person could reach all 18,000 listeners that would be huge and even 500 people can make a difference to a small business.”

One Saturday morning the station manager calls to ask if Goober can cover the next shift. Goob happily agrees to work the rest of that day, then asks, “Why are there never any ads scheduled on our station?”

The manager explains that the station makes its money by selling 14-minute and 28-minute blocks of time to radio preachers. Then on impulse he asks, “Would you be willing to sell some ads for us?”

 “You bet!” says Goob. “How much do I charge?”

 “Whatever you can get,” the manager replies.

This is when our 20 year-old Goober made a decision that would change his life forever. Like most of life’s pivotal forks-in-the-road, the decision didn’t seem important at the time but in later years he would look back and remember this day as the beginning of his career.

A Mom’n’Pop retailer had a small showroom filled with carpet samples at the bottom of the hill near the radio station. With a yellow legal tablet in his left hand and holding the tip of an ink pen to it with his right, he said, “I’m Roy Williams and I’m studying advertising and I’d consider it a huge favor if you could answer a couple of tiny questions for me; have you ever done any advertising that you felt was worth the money you spent?” Staring at the business owner like an eager young reporter, our 20 year-old goober wrote down exactly what the carpet store owner told him.

“One last question. Have you ever done any advertising that you felt was really going to make a difference, but it wound up doing no good at all?” The carpet storeowner started laughing. Looking down and writing furiously on his yellow legal tablet, the goober said, “Tell me about it.”

And then the goober did something very different. He said, “Thank you. You’ve been very helpful,” and left.

He did not ask the man if he wanted to buy some advertising.

A few weeks later, after the goober had spoken to hundreds more business owners, he walked in to that little carpet store and said, “Remember me?” When the carpet storeowner nodded yes, Goob said, “Another business owner told me something the other day that I thought might be helpful to you…” And then he relayed a very relevant story of a successful innovation that had been pioneered by a business owner in a different category on the other side of town. Goober then said, “I really appreciate the time you spent with me the other day. Hopefully, you’ll get some benefit out of some of the things I learn from other people.”

And then he left again without asking the man if he wanted to buy some advertising.

By the time our goober had his 21st birthday he was a walking encyclopedia of real-world knowledge. At least 500 business owners, each with an average of 20 years experience and an ad budget of $10,000 to $100,000 a year, had shared their best and worst experiences with Goober and received some excellent insights in return. Nearly all of them would smile when they saw the goober come in.

Goober now had the results of $25,000,000 (500 x $50,000) a year spent in advertising over 10,000 years of combined experience (500 x 20 years.) His education had cost his instructors two hundred and fifty billion dollars. 

By the time he was 22, Goober was making $70,000 a year at the number 23 station in a city of 23 stations. This was 1980, when a really good job paid $24,000 and major league BIG money was $50,000 a year.

When he was 40, Goober wrote a book about all the things he’d learned from small business owners across America. That book was very successful. The sequel became a New York Times bestseller and was ranked as the #1 Business Book in America by the Wall Street Journal. The third book in the trilogy was also a bestseller. That’s when Goober agreed to start a business school for America’s 5.91 million business owners with fewer than 100 employees. “Traditional business schools teach their students how to get a job in a Fortune 500 company. Our business school will be for owner-operators who have to wear all kinds of different hats.” That school is a 501c3 not-for-profit educational organization called Wizard Academy in Austin, Texas. Its 21-acre campus attracts more than 4,000 visitors each month from around the world.

But Goober also remains a small-business consultant who makes his living by answering questions and developing ad campaigns.

Today, Monday, July 18, 2011 at 11AM Central Time, he’ll be answering a few dozen questions sent in by business owners around the world in a streaming-video electronic classroom. You’re invited to attend for free if you want.

Click this hyperlink and walk through that door into a whole new future. We believe you’ll look back and see it as a pivotal fork-in-the-road.

Ciao for Niao,

Here is where you can read the details.
Go here to sit in on today’s class at 11AM Central.

(Monday, July 18, 2011, 11am Central Time)

One Response to Work With What You've Got

  1. Anna

    Thoroughly excited about the monthly insight! Thank you!

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