The path to world domination begins with a single step (a career update)

I am taking over marketing & sales for a fitness product business, and I couldn’t be more excited.

*Screech.* Huh?

Okay. Some context may be in order.

My friends and family (the 3 people who read this blog faithfully) (hi, mom!) already know that I left Google in December with the goal of diving full-time into entrepreneurship — not tech, but online business.

Why?

Because I want to become world class at helping businesses I believe in grow, starting with building a follower base and marketing/sales engine via this thing I found called the Internet.

And that starts with marketing. Luckily, online marketing — the new, relationship-based kind, not the sleazy kind — is accessible to learn for anyone with a laptop and a WiFi connection (and a ton of dedication).

Little known fact about me: I fell in love with the internet as a medium for building platforms and thought leadership back in 2012 four years ago, and invested pretty much my entire savings ($2000 at that point) into an online course teaching exactly the introduction to these skill sets, created by a woman who rubs elbows with Richard Branson and the likes of Oprah.

Better known fact about me: I’m still obsessed. I used to spend all my (spare) time while at my previous jobs just surfing the internet learning about online business, branding, marketing channels. I would dissect case studies and bookmark exemplary brands and experts to immerse myself in knowledge, constantly broadening my understanding of the ever-shifting online marketing landscape.

And now it’s time to go deep.

I love the scalability of the internet as a medium for spreading messages and selling product; the growth hacking opportunity is incredibly compelling to me, given the ready product and platform. But equally importantly, I’m excited to put into action a value I believe in strongly: I’m 100% committed to the idea that business can and should be done based on real, valuable, trust-based relationships earned over time. I’m a die-hard idealist like that (and even wrote a thesis about this topic at Brown my senior year).

So now, online fitness e-commerce. Here are some of the reasons I’m so excited about this. I have a number of different key goals for 2016 that I feel like I’ve figured out how to tie together in a beautiful singular way:

  1. I’d love to deepen my skills, across SEO, content marketing, PPC, PR, analytics, conversion optimization, UX, email marketing, copywriting, brand positioning, and marketing automation. I know just enough of those (and more) marketing channels and how they fit together to be conversational, let’s say, and to help many smaller businesses and startups. But now I’m aiming for fluency — particularly in SEO, content marketing, email marketing, CRO, and copywriting. It’s time to enter the marketing big leagues, starting with this passion project.
  2. I want to develop an “antifragile” career, where my expertise is invaluable, clearly evident, and not easily replaceable. If I develop these marketing skills in a particular niche (health & fitness e-commerce, for example), even better: then my professional advantage becomes bulletproof, due to supply & demand of this skill set in such a specialized space. And this way, I’m no longer subject to the promotion cycle or salary ceilings of a company job that can pretty much be done by any bright, hardworking Ivy League grad with some common sense. Instead, the value I uniquely bring over other candidates is clearer, and the “gatekeepers” to further opportunity wouldn’t just be my boss or their boss (or HR/company norms/etc.), but my own willingness to hustle and promote what I bring to the table.
  3. I want to cut my teeth on entrepreneurship, broadly defined here as defining and scaling a business with ownership over sales & growth strategy without a ready-made blueprint through an iterative process. With Perfect Burpee, I get to learn the skills that will help me support the growth of businesses and products I believe in & in the way I personally enjoy in that sweet spot of post-launch growth stage.
  4. I love a challenge. I’m a big dreamer, but I have fears of failure and looking silly just like anyone else. But the vision I have for the kind of service I want to give to the world before I die involves risk, and it involves a constant dance along the razor’s edge of failure and breakthrough. So I’ll start here, with something small. This is also why I burned the ship of a steady job behind me — so I could force myself to learn to swim to the next shore with the dedication, resilience, work ethic, creativity, and pure grind that this kind of project inevitably seems to demand. I like the idea of making myself uncomfortable, of identifying where I’m soft and a little weak, and by throwing myself into the deep end of the pool to see what happens. I’m a little crazy that way, but I think all breakthroughs, inner and outer, happen at the edge of our comfort zone.

When I left Google, I was adamant that I didn’t want to quit before I knew what I was running towards, rather than just running away from something hard. That’s not how I want to live my life, and so I held out for a little more clarity on what I did want to do (build an online platform, learn digital sales/marketing deeply).

The first idea was an e-commerce business selling high quality nutrition & superfood products.

An idea I still love, but it would have required either a prohibitive amount of capital to start — and hence risk — or it would have taken too long to achieve product-market fit given the runway I had. Either way, the resource of time or money would have prevented a clear-minded and integrity-based approach to growing the foundation of a business from scratch, given that I’m not an expert (yet).

So I made the tough choice to cut my losses there, pivot, and focus on marketing consulting and freelance work for startups and other businesses of friends and friends of friends until I had some more clarity on what would be a good way to go about accomplishing the above goals without an unreasonable amount of risk and uncertainty.

Certainly, the essence of my new chosen path is risk — but I try to calculate the risk and account for the downside as much as possible.

And that’s when I realized: Perfect Burpee. It’s perfect.

I already knew about this business because a business partner and friend of mine worked on launching it with the founder over a year ago, and they had wanted to get my PPC help to drive sales and move remaining inventory, since they were both focused on other projects and companies now.

They launched the product to some fanfare, were featured in Self Magazine and The Boston Globe, among others, and had a greatly successful Kickstarter campaign. The foundation was already set.

The PPC partnership fizzled for a bit while all three of us worked on some other things.

But the more I thought about it — and the idea was also seeded to me by a few friends, including the one who alerted me to this business — the more it made sense for me to offer my services for a cut of sales.

It would be win-win: I’d build my marketing chops and get to develop the portion of entrepreneurial work that appeals to me (which is just after product design & launch and before a marketing & sales system is solidly in place when growth is most needed and its appropriate strategies uncertain). The founder, Justin, would get extra revenue flowing in without lifting a finger while working on his other company.

So I thought on it for all of 4 minutes before I immediately went to my laptop, opened my Gmail, and typed up an email outlining the pitch.

He replied back, saying “I love this idea.”

We hashed it out over the phone a few days later. And PerfectBurpee.com’s next stage of growth (and world domination) was born.

Also: I am going to write about my step-by-step journey of growing Perfect Burpee with a weekly written articles series. It’ll be deep on tactical marketing stuff, so non-marketing nerds, beware—this is about to get really behind-the-scenes.

And finally, this will be the chronicle of a journey to a big, hairy, audacious goal:

I want to grow Perfect Burpee to $25K in sales revenue per month within 6 months.

That’s right: $300K in annual sales. Why that figure?

It’s a fun number. It gets me jazzed. It’s a reach goal. And it’ll help keep a fire under my ass to keep going, not become complacent, and be accountable to a tangible milestone so that great embarrassment could ensue if I fall too short of this figure.

The other reason I’m being so ambitious is because I truly believe it’s possible with daily hustle and the right work applied to the right channels.

Like I said, I’ve been a zealous consumer of how businesses and brands can grow, drive traffic, optimize for sales, and become successful for a few years now. I’ve listened to hundreds of hours worth of podcasts, read hundreds of articles, and followed dozens of experts. The way I see the world is through the lens of business strategy and marketing.

In the first article I’ll post, I’ll break down exactly what this goal means in terms of objectives I need to hit, and I’ll outline the detailed playbook I’ve drafted up on how I plan to do this.

The other big reason I’m doing this is to show that it’s even possible. When I was at Brown or Google, I was surrounded by brilliant friends with incredible skills but most of them seemed to be under the impression that a great career, high repute, and substantive income were only possible if you followed the beaten path. (I guess even the techies who flock to create companies in Silicon Valley are, you could argue, following a widely adopted startup blueprint.)

I think what’s been done can be great for many people, if not most. But for a few weirdos out there like me who like pushing frontiers, I want to show that it’s really possible to develop deeply marketable skills that every single business today, from a one-woman show to a multinational corporation, is ready to pay for that can make your career in this new, weird economy more bulletproof, successful (whatever that means to you) and conducive to greater creativity and autonomy.

I feel like I’ve found some crazy career arbitrage. Yes, there are untold numbers of both helpful and scammy business or marketing “experts” out there who tout the same skills or promise. But they seem to live in a world of their own.

When I tell many of my friends, family or strangers I’ve recently met about what I’m learning and doing, they have certain (understandable) connotations with online marketing or business or certain types of entrepreneurship that make them question the viability (or ethics) of these skills.

Most people don’t seem to know the vast opportunities that await them if they’re willing to just put in the time to learn deeply just ONE of a few skills (coding, design, and marketing in particular — and even within those, you can have great success with just a single sub-skill) that are relevant to the emerging attention/digital/internet economy (or whatever buzzword you like to call it).

So if you know someone you think would be interested in tracking this journey for info, data, inspiration because they’re thinking of taking a similar journey or are already starting a process like this in the world of entrepreneurship/online business/marketing, please share this with them.

Part of this is shameless self-promotion, but mostly, I’ve learned firsthand that doing this kind of thing by yourself is really hard—if not impossible.

Having someone at the same place or ahead of you to bounce ideas off of, share resources with on a regular basis, and just provide each other accountability and moral support with has been absolutely invaluable to me. It keeps me sane and drastically shortens the learning curve (which is vital if you’re bootstrapping everything).

I love sharing ideas & progress. Hope you follow me on this next stage of my wild journey.

As I told a few friends recently when they asked how things were going: “I can’t wake up early enough for work these days.”