How to Create Professional Video Ads with Zero Knowhow

16th March 2017

Marketing is currently undergoing a significant facelift. As traditional mediums like radio and magazine ads begin to die alongside digital strategies like banner ads, tactics such as advocacy and influencer marketing are filling the void left behind by these withering relics.

In addition to the soaring popularity of these newer marketing modalities comes the meteoric rise of video content and advertising.

Video is the new black. People can’t get enough of it. It’s everywhere. From business websites to social platforms, in-app adverts, and every other digital location you can possibly conceive of, video has tangled its engrossing tentacles all throughout the web and beyond.

For marketers, this means that content needs to make the necessary transition from text to video if there is any hope of continuing to attract, engage and convert consumers. If you haven’t ever created a video, then it can be a bit daunting, but it’s likely easier and cheaper than you think.

Here are some steps to take that can help you with this transition.

Create Professional Video Ads

Establish Goals

As is the case with any marketing tactic, the first step is to establish the goals you aim to achieve. These should fall in line with your company’s overall marketing strategies.

Video is extremely efficient at driving a variety of objectives such as:

  • Increased brand awareness:Video helps to shape entertaining, memorable, and immersive experiences for brands.
  • Framing a person or business as a thought leader:Since people remember 55 percent more information from video formats, this content is a premier forum for educating consumers through tutorials, process guides, case studies and more.
  • Driving conversions and sales:Video is an acquisition and purchase-inspiring machine. Placing a video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80 percent. Additionally, 64 percent of users who watch a video are more likely to buy a product online.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Video is a compelling vehicle for just about any marketing goal you can fathom.

Find Super Simple Video Tools

If you don’t have any video production or editing skills, you’re likely operating under the assumption that creating your own video content involves a steep learning curve

These fears, however, are only illusions now that premium, customizable digital video services like Promo by Slidely have entered the online marketplace.

With Promo, marketers can construct professional-grade video clips from a selection of millions of high-quality video clips and fully licensed music snippets to add to the video’s tone and messaging.

Moreover, Promo lets users upload their own footage and image materials to help create custom ads. And with its text editor, robust toolsets, and affordable pricing, marketers of every degree can create epic ads that will resonate with consumers.

Additional self-service video apps include Biteable and Magisto.

Create Stellar Scripts

No matter if your video content is 15 seconds or 15 minutes long, you will need to craft a compelling message that keeps consumers hooked from start to finish.

The most important thing to remember when forging your video’s voiceover and story flow is to keep your points succinct. Like all content, many brand videos fall into the pitfall of trying to explore overly convoluted concepts, relying on industry jargon, or attempting to cover too many topics at once.

In order to create a video that people will actually want to watch, simplicity is key. This means using a conversational tone in voice or text and staying away from lingo that only your coworkers understand.

Be sure to also keep sentences short and sweet. This is especially important for text overlays and makes your messaging easy for the audience to absorb and retain.

If you aren’t sure if your script meets these guidelines, reading it aloud will quickly clear up any confusion.

Of course, all of this needs to be accompanied by relevant and high-quality images or video clips; or as an alternative, you can opt to use a “talking head” video host.

Tell the Audience What’s Next

CTAs are an absolute must for video content. Even if the goal is to merely drive awareness, you should be directing your viewers to more of your content so as to continue developing a rapport.

At the end of your video ad (or below it, as is the case with CTA buttons on Facebook ads) you should be letting viewers know what to do next.

This could be letting prospects know to grab their coupon code before it expires, informing them to visit your website for more details, or driving folks to download a digital offering. Whatever purpose your video serves, be sure that it fulfills its potential by prompting users when the time is right; this normally happens at the end of the video.

Start Making Those Clips

Video content is the future of online marketing. Fortunately, creating video is becoming an increasingly easy and cost effective marketing modality.

Don’t let your business become as antiquated as newspaper ads. Blaze a path into the future of marketing by learning to craft arresting video content and adverts that will cater to a new generation of consumers.

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Image on this page courtesy of Pixabay

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How To Write A Great Business Plan

7th March 2017

As you sail the oceans of opportunity, you want your sails making the most of the winds and the rudder pointed in the right direction. You want at frequent intervals to know that you are headed in the right direction. If not, you need to have the means to do a course correction. You should be able to ride out any storms which come your way. You should have enough supplies to make the journey and also adapt on the way if required.

A good business plan does this and more.

What is a business plan?

A business plan, as defined by Entrepreneuris a “written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement.”

According to guidelines from the U.S. Small Business Administration, you need to include the following:

  • an executive summary
  • a company description
  • a market analysis
  • an organization and management breakdown
  • a description of the service or product line
  • an overview of your marketing strategy, a request for funding (if applicable)
  • some financial projections to back up your ask
  • an Appendix (optional) that includes relevant resumes, permits, or leases.

While there are many definitions for a plan, at heart, a business plan sets down the what, when, where, how and how much for the business. Let’s understand:

What: what will the business do and more importantly, what is the purpose of the business? The simpler and in fewer words you can write this, the better it is. “We make cupcakes” is simple but too short. “We make healthy cupcakes for fitness lovers” would be clear and also differentiated. What of the business also makes it clear what you will NOT do.

Steve Jobs said, “Focus means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.”

When: This part of the business plan lays down the “when” of the what. While your business is an ongoing entity, there would be milestones you would want to achieve in this journey. This section lists down the time lines for those achievements.

Where: This part relates to the distribution and geographic coverage. It may also include the types of industries you will service. E.g. for cupcakes, while you may have only one store, you may use an ecommerce portal to distribute across the state or the city.

How: This section goes into the details of how you are going to achieve your plan. How will you make your cupcakes? How will you manage your finances? How will you do your marketing and sales? How will you handle customer issues? Will you have people for each of the above functions or you will outsource some of them?

How much: This part talks about your costs and investments. How much expense will you incur to deliver what you have set out to do? This section typically will have an optimistic, realistic and pessimistic scenario. You have a realistic estimate of sales. Now add an optimistic and pessimistic sales scenario. Plot what you will incur as costs against this. This helps in adapting the business to the environment in real time and takes the anxiety out of the equation.

Related: 3 Apps to Help You Write a Business Plan

Your business plan should not try to be one-size-fits-all. However, it is important to understand the different perspectives with which people will read your plan.

Here are the key people whose perspective should be included

  1. Your Investors
  2. Your Team
  3. You!

#1 What’s in it for the investor?

You may have investors or partners who are invested in your business only from a financial perspective. What should the Plan highlight for them?

Your investors will want to know if the numbers are as agreed with them. Then, they would like to know some of the key assumptions behind the numbers.

These often are (but not limited to)

  • Sales
  • Expenses
  • Profit
  • Marketing
  • Working Capital

Some key questions which your business plan needs to answer are:

  • What are you doing more of or less of than last year?Your plan must have comparison against the earlier years.
  • Are sales coming from more customers or more revenue per customer?
  • Are expenses reducing at operating level or financial level?
  • What is driving the working capital? Debtors or Creditors?
  • Is Profit increasing because revenues are up or expenses are less?

#2 What’s in it for Your Team?

Does the plan give a clear direction on where they need to focus their efforts?

The business plan should clearly outline the type and number of customers they need to focus on, the level of expenses they need to operate at and how success will be measured.

The Plan should have the milestones the business needs to reach so that they will know their efforts are in the right direction.

Your Business Plan should also have an inspirational element to it. The ‘Why’ in the plan should give them the reason to be excited about the business and what it has set out to do.

Simon Sinek says” There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.”

#3 What’s in it for you?

As a founder and owner of the business, what do you want in the plan?

  • Customer
  • People
  • Profits
  • Process

Some questions you need clear answers to are:

  • Are you creating and retaining more customers? Are you making more raving fans or just shipping more boxes?
  • Are your people cost going up – is it led by senior hires or more junior hires? Is it reflecting the gaps you are planning to fill this year?
  • Is your business generating more operating profits or improving your bottom line by cost cutting? How much of the profits can be reinvested so that you can build your business?
  • Are your operating costs down? Does this reflect your quality-cost principle? Are your shipping costs increasing or decreasing? Is your marketing costs increasing or decreasing?


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Imagine Being A WiFi Millionaire!

9th February 2017

wifi-millionaire-product-layout-Editable-1024x592Can you imagine becoming a WiFi Millionaire? How does becoming an entrepreneur and living a laptop lifestyle appeal to you?  Making a full-time income working part time from anywhere?  It’s funny because way back in 1999, a business consultant asked me “What do you know about the Internet?” I replied “Nothing”. He advised me to find out all I could, as the Internet was going to be huge. How right he was.

In 2001 I started learning how to build websites focusing on creating a portal website for Stonehaven in Scotland where I have lived since 1977. I then started creating websites for local businesses and helped them with marketing on a part time basis at that time.

With laptops so much lighter and WiFi much more accessible. I can take my Apple Mac and my Ipad with me where ever I go and work where I choose.

Am I a millionaire yet? Not yet but I am loving the lifestyle.

Have I made mistakes? Yes hundreds. But that’s how you learn.

Can you be a WiFi Millionaire?

The opportunities are much greater nowadays especially if you work with people who have walked the walk and talked the talk and yet still continuing to improve and learn how they can be of more service to others.

WiFi Millionaire logoBeing over 60 I can certainly relate to some of what is mentioned in this extract from the book WiFi Millionaire;-

>>>”Things have changed. Retirement and pension funds disappearing.Jobs are being lost or replaced at record rates and regular people all over the world are feeling the pinch, but there is a silver lining.

In fact, if you’re willing to rethink everything you know about work, then you can take advantage of this new economy and make more money than you ever dreamed possible.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about escaping the nine to five, being your own boss, and working when and where you want to. I’m talking about making more money in 5 hours per week than most people make in 50 hours per week. I’m talking about becoming a WiFi millionaire with just a computer, a WiFi connexion, and a desire to succeed.

This may sound far fetched to you, and that’s understandable. Through no fault of your own, you’ve been brainwashed by parents, teachers, and, otherwise, sensible people into thinking your life should follow a certain path. Go to school for 15 to 20 years, work a career for 40 years, retire comfortably (if you don’t die of a heart attack first). Even if this fantasy were possible, which it’s not anymore, it assumes that you’re okay with working most of your life for a retirement fund that may be taken away at any time. That just seems like a waste of a life to me. I’d rather enjoy my life now, make money now, and have the time and freedom to work when and where I want and travel at a moment’s notice.“<<<

WiFi Millionaire clearly lays out your options for different home businesses and gives you actionable tips and tools for getting more done while having complete control over your schedule. By using these productivity tips, you’ll learn how to filter out distractions and make more money in less time than you ever thought possible. In fact, some people make a very good income with the WiFi Millionaire system in only 30 minutes per day. Also, you don’t need to be a computer genius or have any special training or skills to do this. All you need is a willingness to implement what you learned.

The amazing thing is you can get all this information for less than $5.

Take A Few Minutes to watch this video Now




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Home Business Entrepreneur

Do You Have The Abilities Successful Home Based Entrepreneurs Have?

7th February 2017


Do you possess the six abilities below;-

1. Self-Discipline and Hard Work:

The Key to operate a successful home based business is self-discipline. When you work from home you have to complete jobs all by yourself. There is no Boss to supervise you or prod you along. There are no colleagues or friends to discuss with or give you moral support.You have to put in a lot of hard work and effort to achieve success. Unless you are self disciplined success will only be a distant dream.

2. Dedication and Motivation:

Once you make the decision to start and operate a successful home based business, it is absolutely important that you work with dedication. Running a successful home based business is not an easy option to take and is not for people who cannot discipline themselves and you must be committed to achieve success. It is important that you remain dedicated, self-motivated and focused to achieve your goal.

3. Confidence:

Confidence plays a major role in your work as a home based business entrepreneur. You need to be confident that you have the ability to do the job. Failure is not an option for you. It is you and you alone who are going to do all the good tasks and the dirty ones. If you don’t do the job, then it doesn’t get done.

4. Time Management:

A successful home based business is always geared to efficient time management. How well you manage your time is crucial. You should have a plan for all your daily activities and stick to it as best as you can. Failure to do this can lead to stress and procrastination which will impede the progress of your business.

5. Communication Skills:

Unfortunately working from home does not give you the licence to talk to people and behave anyway you like. Working for an employer, there are other members of the staff handling specialised activities such as meeting clients, suppliers, bank managers and public relations. On the other hand when you work from home, you are all in one and your ability to communicate well with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations is extremely important in running a successful home based business.

6. Balanced Temperament and Flexibility:

When you work in your home based business, you are bound to face various unpleasant situations and also experience periods of highs and lows and ups and downs. This calls for a balanced temperament that can tackle these situations in the best possible manner while maintaining a high profile under these circumstances. Operating a successful home based business also calls for a lot of adjustment and flexibility as and when situations arise.


Most if not all of the successful home based business entrepreneurs have these abilities. For some these abilities come naturally while others have to acquire them.

If you want to be successful and reach the top, the solution is obvious-make sure you acquire all of these abilities.


Article by George McGillivray –

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80_20 rule

Video: Setting and Achieving Goals by Using the 80/20 Rule

30th January 2017

This excellent video from Brian Tracy is only 6 minutes long but has some great ideas on setting and achieving goals by using the 80/20 rule.


The 80/20 Rule (also called The Pareto Principle) states that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results.

How to apply the 80/20 rule to your goal setting:

1/ Write down 10 goals

If you could only achieve one of the goals, which would make the most dramatic impact on your life? In other words, which is your most improtant goal right now?
Also, which is your second most important goal?
These are then the 20% of your goals that you should work towards all the time. So…

2/ Work at those goals all the time

Do less work on tasks that don’t make a difference to your life and more time on the 20% you have identified.
The tasks you need to do may be tricky ones but…

3/ Resist the temptation to clear up small things first

85% of rich people have 1 big goal that they work on all of the time
Only 3% of poorer people have a big goal, and they also don’t work towards that one goal.

In summary, pick one big goal, and work on it all of the time… It will change your life!




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chris and susan celebrating

How To Solve Your Retirement Worries

26th January 2017

In July 2015, I was in Brighton attending a 3 day Bootcamp and was impressed by a young entrepreneur who was talking about a system he had developed for creating a business online.
One of his clients was answering questions in the entrance area during a break and I was impressed with the honest and sincere way she handled all the questions

Her name was Susan Beesley and like myself was in her 60’s and she had been on stage earlier with her husband Chris talking about how they had made over $50,000 in their first 6 months, and they are now retired and financially free. They now spend their days teaching others how to do the same.

Here’s a message from them which I’d like to share with you…

Hello, we are Chris and Susan Beesley, and we have a very important message for you today…

chris_susan on beach

If you can trust us, even a little bit, then we know we can help you solve your retirement worries.
We are accountants and management consultants by profession. And just a few short years ago, in our mid-50s, we found ourselves working six-or-seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day.

That’s when I had my “wake-up call”…
You see, my parents always talked about what they would do when they retired. But then my dad died suddenly just after his 60th birthday, and they never were able to fulfil that dream.

When this happened, I thought, “We can’t wait until WE retire to start enjoying life.

Let me ask you a very important question: How long are you going to live from today? 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
No one knows for certain how long we have left… but the question for you, is how do you want to spend your remaining years?
Will your life be filled doing the things you’ve always wanted to do—or will you live hand-to-mouth for the rest of your days?

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 19.27.17

As accountants, we had a good income, but we had no time.  No time for us, no time to travel, no time for our family, and certainly no time to do the things we really wanted to do in life.

And, retirement was on the horizon.

You know what’s really frightening for us baby boomers? It’s watching our entire nest-egg vanish before our very eyes—just before we want to retire. And suddenly realising you will literally have to work until the day you die.

From 2005-2008, everyone was buying real estate—including us. But nothing could have predicted what happened to the economy in 2008.

After we lost most of our retirement portfolio, we decided we weren’t going to starve on a tiny pension for the rest of our lives, so we sat down and thought long and hard about our future. And maybe you’ve done that too.

Luckily, we had already been searching for online education, because we wanted to help our clients use the Internet to expand their businesses.

It was through this research that we discovered how to actually build a business online. We could start part-time, and immediately.

We firmly believe that online entrepreneurship will help people just like you, create a better life for yourself whether you’re in retirement, or it’s quickly approaching.

The good news… we discovered an incredible system that allows us to fulfil our passion for teaching and training. Now we spend our free time:
• Traveling to exotic locations in the Caribbean, French Alps, and Portugal, just to name a few…
• Pursuing passions and causes that make the world a better place…
• Meeting and collaborating with extraordinary people from around the world…
• Controlling our destiny, our retirement, and our financial future.

You may be thinking as you are reading this that it’s just too late—that you can’t possibly start a business at your age…

retired chris and susan on grass

But don’t let these false beliefs hold you back from living the life of your dreams.
In fact, according to a recent article in Forbes, 52% of new home business owners are over age 55. And 79% are over 45 years old.

That means most people starting businesses are baby boomers, so it’s NOT too late. This is something you seriously need to consider.

When you’re looking for a professional business online, there are Three Key Elements absolutely crucial to your success…
1. You have to work with people who have done what you want to do and are willing to help and guide you.
2. You need a proven system that’s simple to follow and will work for you—even if you’ve never done anything like this before.
3. Get a personal coach who will take you by the hand and show you exactly what to do, step-by-step.

This system works for us and thousands of others, and we know it can work for you too.

chris and susan celebrating

If you’re reading this now, and you’re in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, hoping someday to have the time and money to really enjoy life, I’m telling you, “Please don’t wait!”

And if you’re staring at your retirement situation, and you don’t like what you see, this is the perfect time to watch our new Free video.

In this video, we reveal—for the first time—the most powerful top-tier income generating system in the world…

If you would like to learn how to create your own dream retirement lifestyle in 12 months …

Just click this link to see how to get access to Chris and Susan’s video.

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5 Keys to Entrepreneurial Success in 2017

4th January 2017

Gamblers trust to luck, entrepreneurs trust in their own hard work.

If you are ready to experience entrepreneurial success in 2017, be prepared to work. There aren’t any $37 eBooks or $97/month programs that are going to magically eliminate or reduce the workload that is required to be successful.

The other day I overheard a business owner say, “Hopefully, luck will be on my side next year and business will take a turn for the better.” Sadly, that way of thinking isn’t going to help him one bit — if I were to make a bet, I would let it ride on him failing again.

If you are banking on luck, you might as well hit the casino and let it all ride on red or black at the roulette wheel. Here are five very simple, yet seemingly overlooked key points you need to address if you want to experience a successful 2017.

1. Put past failures behind you.

There are far more failures than there are success stories when it comes to startups and new businesses. Most fail, and that’s just how it is. It’s very rare that you will find a successful entrepreneur that hit a home run at his or her first at bat.

In order to eventually get your win, you need to learn from your past mistakes, but also put them behind you. Don’t dwell on them or waste time looking back. focus all your energy and momentum on what’s in front of you. I had several failures before I found success with my marketing agency.

2. Show up daily ready to hustle.

The minute you start to slack or switch into cruise control mode, you immediately lose valuable momentum. Go into each day knowing you must hustle hard and take full advantage of every available minute.

My company just did a soft launch of the first of a half-dozen consumer brands we are bringing to market in 2017 and we also have a new influencer marketing agency, blerrp launching in the new year. My plate is beyond full — it’s overflowing, and if I don’t show up every day ready to give 100 percent it’s going to be a disaster. Commit and then hold yourself accountable — your success depends on it.


3. Work on your business daily.

Work “on” your business, not “in” your business.

Once you understand there is a huge difference, you will experience the type of growth that is needed to succeed. Learning to delegate responsibilities was one of the reasons my marketing agency succeeded, while past ventures failed. I used to think that I could do it all — trust was a big factor. I would rather work 18-hour days and try to do it all rather than delegate to someone capable of handling the tasks.

Hire freelancers and virtual assistants to handle simple, yet time-sucking tasks. This allows you to focus on more important tasks, like strategy and growth. Use these tips to make your freelancer hiring process as smooth as possible.

4. Learn and improve daily.

Strive to become a better entrepreneur every single day. There are several ways to learn — industry conferences, mentors, coaches, etc. — but there is something you can do every morning that will have a huge impact on your success — reading.

Reading allows us to absorb information from some of the smartest people in the world who share their expertise and logic, helping us to become better entrepreneurs. While it can be difficult at first, try to dedicate a part of your morning ritual to reading, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Over time you will discover that this can be one of the most beneficial parts of your day.

5. Refuse to quit.

Giving up is for cowards — it’s the easy way out.

It’s going to be difficult. There are going to be times that it seems impossible. When faced with obstacles, take a step back and be grateful that you have this opportunity. There is no better time to start a business than right now. You can start with very little to no capital and you don’t even need a physical office location.

Promise yourself that you will not quit, no matter how difficult the journey becomes and the odds that you succeed improve drastically.


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5 Steps to Help Yourself Recover from a Setback

14th December 2016



This was not your best week. Something didn’t go right. Let’s say it was a negotiation that didn’t play out your way.

What do you do afterward? You might go to a bar with friends, talk to your spouse, or call your mom. But those are just delay tactics. Soon the ruminating will begin. You’ll wonder what went wrong and blame yourself, others, or external factors. When that becomes exhausting, you’ll tell yourself that you need to forget the past and focus on what’s ahead.

This is a natural and perfectly reasonable reaction, but it’s psychologically painful without much benefit. It won’t prevent you from experiencing the same kind of failure a second or third or fourth time.

There is a better way: a mental protocol through which you ask yourself a series of brief, structured questions and put some effort into answering them. Based on new research on counterfactual thinking (which is exactly what it sounds like: imagining alternatives to what just happened), this process is not difficult, and it promises to both ease the pain of the setback and position you to do better next time.

Counterfactual thinking is something most of us do all the time — “If I hadn’t bumped into my old friend last year, I would have missed out on getting this great job with his company!” or “If only I had said yes to that overseas assignment, I probably would have been promoted.” But researchers are now categorizing it into different types and determining why we use them and when. There’s still a lot to be learned, but studies suggest that certain forms of counterfactual thinking can be particularly helpful when people need to recover and improve performance after negative events.

Let’s come back to that just-concluded, unsuccessful negotiation. Your company is trying to be more agile in the face of changing customer demand, and you had asked an important supplier to leave the working agreement more open-ended than usual so you would have the ability to change course during the year. His only concession was to make it a six-month agreement, rather than 12-month, and you and your boss consider this a pretty significant failure.

You avail yourself of a couple of the usual recovery activities listed above. You beat up on yourself for being incompetent and unlucky. You blame the stiff who represented the supplier, as well as those dry turkey sandwiches that the caterer provided. “Ah well,” you say as you drain your beer with a colleague, “lessons learned. Time to move on.”

But actually no lessons have been learned, and it’s not time to move on. Not yet.

Instead, follow these five steps, in order:

  1. Imagine a better outcome, Part 1. Challenge yourself to conceive of an upward counterfactual, a path that might have led to a better deal. Make sure to focus on your own actions, not someone else’s. For example, your counterpart had seemed close to agreeing to several of your suggestions on flexibility, but then you both took a break. Afterward, he was more adamant. Maybe if you had pressed for an answer before the break, the outcome would have been better.
  2. Imagine a better outcome, Part 2. Challenge yourself to think of yet another upward counterfactual. Why? The idea is to combat your natural tendency to fixate on the first alternative scenario as the only one, a trap known as hindsight bias. The apparent obviousness of the first alternative, now that you’ve thought of it, induces overconfidence; you begin to feel as though you were aware of it all along. Imagining a second path to a better outcome helps you to avoid attributing your failure to a simplistic, pat reason. As an example of a second scenario, imagine that you put the flexibility issue on the table at the beginning of the negotiation. Would that have yielded a better outcome than springing it on your counterpart later in the talks, as you did?
  3. Imagine a different path leading to the same outcome. This is known as semifactual thinking, or an “even if.” For example, breaking the negotiations into two distinct talks with different counterparts — the first talk being about price and the second about nonprice terms, for example — would have been a very different experience, but it might have led to the same outcome. Next, ask yourself why the outcome might have been the same. In this case, was it because there is widespread worry among the supplier’s staff that the marketplace is shifting rapidly, and they’re afraid to allow any contract change that might hurt their position? The purpose of this step in the failure and recovery process is to reveal obstacles you might not have noticed or articulated. Later on, you can circle back and try to figure out how to overcome them. For example, it might be possible to allay the supplier’s anxiety by offering something else as potential compensation, such as an option to raise prices during the life of the contract.
  4. Imagine the same path leading to a different outcome. Think of how a different outcome — better or worse — could have resulted from the same process you followed. Picture your counterpart smiling and saying yes to your suggestion about flexibility. Or frowning and insisting on no changes at all to the contract’s length. One purpose of this step is to highlight the randomness in outcomes. In most cases, the reality is that the very steps you took could have led to different endpoints. People have trouble accepting that. If you’re going to recover effectively, it’s important to maintain a healthy respect for outside forces. This step can also help you think about backup and contingency plans to cope with these forces.
  5. Imagine a worse outcome. This downward counterfactual is partly a feel-good tactic. Think of a different path that might have led to a poorer result, and then pat yourself on the back for having avoided it. But there’s another purpose to this step: to broaden your understanding of what just happened. Let’s say you thought about making, but then didn’t make, a comment about your counterpart’s declining sales. The idea would have been to underscore that his company doesn’t have a good grasp of what’s going on in the marketplace, but you realized in the nick of time that the comment might have put him on the defensive and made things worse. Pursue that idea a little further and you might end up with a big-picture understanding of the supplier’s present sense of vulnerability.

By completing these five steps, you avoid blame and bias and other kinds of mental ruts, and you see an enlarged, nuanced picture of the failure. You’re better positioned to know what really did and didn’t cause the setback. And the upward counterfactuals give you a starting point for planning the next go-round and improving your subsequent performance. You may not follow your imagined scenarios precisely, but you’ve learned to stretch your mind to incorporate new possible tactics.

I’ve seen this method work for managers and entrepreneurs in various contexts. The links between counterfactual thinking and interpersonal effectiveness are underscored by research on schizophrenia, which demonstrates that an inability to do the former partly explains patients’ social dysfunction. Neuroimaging studies suggest that since counterfactual thinking happens in the same part of the brain as planning, it might serve as a sort of interface between emotional thinking and goal setting.

Leaders are often told to maximize their “return on failure,” but so far there has been little focus on the specific steps one should take to learn from mistakes. Challenging yourself to use counterfactual thinking and formulate detailed alternative scenarios is one way to bridge that gap and ensure you do better the next time around.

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