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The David Chronicles: A Lesson In Keeping Things Simple

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by David Garland in David's Blog

Keep It Simple, StupidNOTE: This is a new personal series I’m trying out to see if you like it, find it interesting, funny, helpful, whatever. It is no-punches-pulled, 100% ridiculously transparent. Based on the first installments (linked up at the bottom if you want to check them out), you want more. So, here it comes‚Ķmuhahaha.

In nearly 300 interviews and thousands of conversations with entrepreneurs and successful people, I’ve never heard this uttered:

“Well, you know David, I had an idea and a plan. And it went exactly as I thought it would with no mistakes. And it was really easy. And I made millions!”

Not once.


Surprising? Heck no. We all make mistakes. Have failures both big and small. The difference between successful people and the not-so-successful is simple: while the not-so-successful people dwell on failures and fear of making more, successful people fail, learn from it, and move on.

In RISE interviews for this year, I’m going to consciously do my best to ask about failures of successful people. I think we will all learn a lot from them (as well as, of course, the successes). Combine them and we have the REAL story (as opposed to fluffy, kissing bunnies frolicking around).

I thought I’d kick it off though, and also keep the David Chronicles series going by popular request. Over the next few posts I’m going to share a few of my failures and the learning experiences that came from it. Of course, feel free to add one or two of yours below if you so choose, or at least take a few of these to heart so YOU don’t make the same mistakes.

And I will mix in the successes as well. Because without failure, there is no success. The entrepreneurial journey for all of us is a mixture of failure and success and I want to make sure this series hits on that with a mix.

Here is a failure and learning experience from 2008-2009.

Overcomplicated Equals Confusion. Confusion Equals Inaction.

This was interesting, especially when The Rise To The Top first started. It was sort of hard to explain it to potential sponsors/partners/people in a simple, straight-forward way. Meaning, I would ramble on for ten minutes (err…maybe twenty) or so and it was hard for people to “get it” right away. I distinctively remember being on a stage during a business pitch contest where you got two minutes to explain your business. I rambled and the gong went off. Darn it.

Was it a TV show? A web show? An event series? David screaming at a camera? A monkey? A web resource? A community? A mountain?

And beyond that, the “overcomplicated” spoiled over into other aspects of the business. Some of the sponsorship packages were a little bit complicated with way too much information given as opposed to keeping it very simple (like this year). A business and your offerings should be EASY to explain. A small child should be able to understand it.

The more complicated it is, the more confusing it becomes. Think about when you are confused and busy – what do you do? Probably nothing and walk away.

Don’t make this mistake.

People don’t remember complicated or confusing. People remember things that are simple and sticky.

Once I simplified it, the game changed (and continues to change).

A word of caution though. Sometimes this can be much clearer in hindsight. Don’t get frustrated if it is a bit complicated/confusing. Just realize your GOAL should be to make it simple over time.

Here are some ways I simplified:

  • The tagline became the “#1 Non-Boring Resource For Building Your Business”.
  • The explanation of what RISE “is” was simplified to a paragraph: The Rise To The Top is the #1 non-boring business resource featuring entertaining, educational, and inspiring “tell-all” authentic video interviews with unique entrepreneurs and successful, passionate innovators.
  • It could be even more simplified to an online talk show for entrepreneurs.

On the offering front, now it is EXTREMELY clear what we offer sponsors/partners and what problem we solve.

We solve the problem of companies tearing their hair (and money) out trying to reach busy young, tech-savvy, always-on-the-go, emerging, and rising entrepreneurs. The next generation of business leaders and influencers. And we solve it by connecting them to the RISE community via show plugs at the beginning of episodes and links and logos in the show notes that reaches our 100,000+ community of awesome.


Is simplifying a work in progress? You bet it is. But the challenge is to keep simplifying as opposed to complicating (we have a tendency to do the opposite).

Try this: can you sum up your business in one to three sentences?

In case you missed it:

Image Credit: bjornmeansbear

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8 Steps to Turning What You Already Know into a Successful Online Course

The 8 step process to the successful with online courses + free gifts for attending!

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