Principles, Jargon, Campaigns, Pricing, and Meditation

Ok.. ever wondered what the connection between pricing and Ray Dalio’s principles?

Five things on my mind this week:

1. Book I’m reading

Principles, by Ray Dalio, which I touched on briefly the other day. His approach to life and business, which has led to the creation of the world’s largest hedge fund, is “a game”. The game consists of failing repeatedly, then being presented with a puzzle: an explanation for the failure. These puzzles yield “gems”, which he calls principals. Principals are extracted from his explanations for failures.

Here’s how he describes the key parts of the behavior that uncovers principles:

  1. Be radically open-minded. Especially useful in determining your own flaws.
  2. Find the root cause. By this, Ray means finding the root cause in yourself for a given business failure. 
  3. Write your principles down. As Einstein said, if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t adequately understand it. Ray gets at this by writing down the principles he learns, because he knows that gives him the surest chance of being able to explain them later.

To be principled means to consistently operate with principles that can be clearly explained
– Ray Dalio

This has a lot to do with content marketing; it’s the hidden benefit I’ve discussed earlier: clarifying your thinking so that it becomes much easier to summon in conversation,

As you can see, the process and methodology is not just a lifehack; it’s a system for living a principled life. Did it ever occur to you that if you can’t explain your principles clearly, you may not be able to live or do good work by them? 



2. Words I’m thinking about

  • Here’s a term offered by advice-givers to those of us who are self-employed: lifestyle business. I’ve heard this plenty of times over the past 10 years of being in business for myself and I know what people mean when they use it: a business meant not to create wealth or impact but to sustain a comfortable style of life with relative freedom. Sounds pretty good actually, sounds like a  good lifestyle business. But it’s used semi-pejoratively. And that’s SO strange. What’s the alternative, a bad-lifestyle business? No thanks.
  • Another term on my mind: namesake agency (or namesake brand). For example, Ford. Or Price, Waterhouse, Coopers. Or just a one-person name, such as Seth Godin.

    Some advise freelancers or solo consultants, on the other hand: work under an invented business name to encourage you to make business decisions. Not bad advice, especially if you’re new to the game.

    But another approach: start a namesake agency and talk about it in the 3rd-person.

3. Marketing campaign I’m impressed with

  • Kai Davis is doing some good work lately. Go check out his series on improving your business as a consultant in a broad and comprehensive way.
  • And as was the case last week, Drayton Bird is midway through the best email marketing campaign I’ve ever witnessed, promoting his “Final Appearance” 1-day seminar (he is 82 and has said this will be his last in-person seminar) on October 25, in Bristol.


4. Thought leader I’m impressed with

At this point, I’m not new to the concept of Progressive Pricing, but it is rare that someone speaks about the subject as eloquently as Tim Williams. In this video, he gives wonderful examples of the theory of progressive pricing from multiple industries. He then explains how they can be used by high-end technical and creative services businesses.

By the way, what’s interesting is not just how B2B services businesses can use this for their own pricing, but how they can help their clients do the same.


5. A business I’m impressed with

Insight Timer, the meditation app, and low-key social network launched “Courses” recently. Smashing success.

By the way, Insight is by far the best meditation app on the market that I have yet experienced, partly because it’s fiercely stuck to its spiritual empowerment missions. That means it has maintained the value of its product to those who can’t or won’t pay. It’s a beautifully designed app all the way around.

Meanwhile, it perfectly nailed its difficult freemium ambitions by launching paid courses this Summer. In doing so, it has dramatically expanded the scope of its impact on listeners, on its teachers (the thousands of meditation teachers who record guided meditations – and now courses), and on its own bottom line.

It’s one of those extremely rare cases of brilliant strategy and brilliant execution at massive scale.

we’re introducing three ideas that will create revenue for our teachers and our company. These new features have been designed to preserve the spiritual nature of your community without removing any of the features you already have.

I don’t know if your ideas will work. But we’re going to give it our best shot. And I hope our community understands the rationale behind our decisions.

– Christopher Plowman, CEO of Insight Timer

Your ideas will work, Insight Timer. You’re offering courses for between $5 and $20 that are invaluable (and a fraction of what they’d cost elsewhere), from some of the most remarkable meditation teachers – while providing free guided meditations, and many other features, from those same teachers.

I doubt there are many for-profit businesses changing the world like Insight Timer.