What to expect at a Wilson Luna event: An honest review

If you’re a big Wilson Luna fan, there’s one of two reactions you’ll have to this. Either it will offend you, or you’ll feel sorry for me for not being ‘compatible’ with Luna’s teachings.

I really hope it is the first, for the latter is exactly what you are being conditioned to believe each minute you spend in front of this NLP and sales master.

tl;dr: Avoid like the plague

Upon leaving his 2 day Entrepreneurial Intensive, my predominant emotion was sadness. A deep sadness for all the poor people that had been caught hook, line and sinker and trapped within a crazy, crazy world.

Once I made it home, it felt like my mind was recovering from a 2 day battery of intensive NLP and sales techniques. There is not a doubt in the world that Wilson Luna is a sales genius. An ethical one? I’m not so sure.

It was early on the second day where a few of us started catching on to some of the tricky things he was up to. The biggest clue was seeing how his many minions, dressed in black around the edges of the room, were acting. With their relentless single claps (what the hell is that?), yelling “yes, yes” at every second sentence, spontaneous jumping around in fits of happiness or long embraces in the middle of the talk, it was as if they were under the effect of a spell, or hypnotized. As the weekend wore on, this weird stuff just got more and more intense. It seemed that they were basically falling deeper and deeper into Luna’s trap. It was actually really scary and saddening to watch.

wilson-luna-minions

Somehow this was the first result for a Wilson Luna Google Image search

The Value

It wasn’t all bad though. The guy definitely has some solid business advice. None of it could be remotely classified as groundbreaking, but many people could take away a few great pointers and concepts provided they are willing to sacrifice a full two days.

The marketing will tell you that the Entrepreneur Intensive is high content with minimal selling. While Wilson is very very good at hiding his sales pitch, in reality the whole thing is just one big pitch with maybe 5% actual content sprinkled through.

I wouldn’t have gone to the event if a few people hadn’t said that the content was worth going for. Free seminars almost always suck. But somehow, he’s even convinced the minions that it is a high content seminar. These minions act as his sales army, much like other semi-cults like Landmark.

Perhaps the biggest value was in his “business teardowns.” This is where people in the audience get up and pitch their business, and Luna tears it down and explains what’s good about it, what sucks, and the direction he would go. There was definitely some gold in here. A common theme among his advice was to become a supplier or distributor of whatever it is that you do. To be in with a chance to get stood up, you parted with $100 for the VIP package, which I regrettably took. Fortunately I did have a chance to speak. However, a miscommunication resulted in being advised to ditch building software and instead do software services.

My biggest takeaway was a mindset shift in the way I see rich people. My usual reaction to a dude in a Ferrari is “fuck you rich prick”. That was turned on its head, which is a good thing in my opinion.

The Not-So Value

wilson luna portrait

Wilson Luna Portrait
(Let’s get this to rank on Google Image search too)


The biggest thing being drilled into your brain for 2 days is that you will likely not succeed in business without following Luna’s advice.

Towards the end of day one I’d even started believing this. Absolute fucking insanity.

He seems to build up a kind of “us versus everyone else” mentality, where the people in the room are almost guaranteed to succeed and everyone else not so much. He even likened signing up to his $5k program to betting on roulette with 90% odds…

You’re also being told over and over that it is wise to invest in your business’ future. You’re told (in subtle ways) that not spending money will hold your business back. Conveniently, you get many opportunities to spend $5,000 at the back of the room.

The real question is if the money will give you any actual value. My researched and honest opinion would swing pretty heavily towards a no.

That money basically gives you access to 4 seminars in Australia each year (more if you want to travel to London) and a Facebook group. I spoke to many minions who were adamant the content of each seminar was always new and valuable. When asked what kind of things changed, they really struggled. I’d be willing to bet that there isn’t a whole lot of extra content being delivered – just more NLP trickery to convince them to sign up all of their friends.

I personally know people who have dropped over $10,000 into this guy and don’t have an actual functioning business yet. Ouch.

Should you go?

You honestly may get some value out of this seminar. But there is no way it is worth 2 days of your life, especially a weekend. If you are the type of person susceptible to hypnosis, my suggestion is to stay a long, long way away from this.

And some people have even done research into the guy’s past to see if the things he claims about his business prowess are even legit. It doesn’t seem so. The whole thing could very well be a load of shit.

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A great book for software startups and entrepreneurs

There are a ton of books out there aimed at those of us in the early stages of business. It’s not often you find one that is as applicable to the software world as this book. It’s not surprising though, given that the authors are the software company that brought us Basecamp and invented Ruby on Rails. That’s about as spot on as it gets to our industry don’t you think?

Rework rocks for a few reasons.

  1. They’ve done a damn good job of keeping it short and to the point, while
  2. giving you heaps of ‘aha’ and ‘thank god, I actually am on the right track’ moments

rework front cover37 Signals have defied a lot of the traditional thinking when it comes to starting a a business. And the whole point of this book is “and you can too”. As an example, it encourages simplicity in products. You don’t have to create a product that does everything your competitors do and more – creating a features arms race. I sure as hell have been guilty of this. When we first released Chimp Rewriter it did so much stuff. Now each revision we’re basically pulling out features that barely anyone uses, and having it do the remaining stuff better. And with the development of Job On Time, it gives me a lot of faith in what we are doing -> crazy simple job scheduling for the non technical.

Some of my takeaways

  • Planning and forecasting based on guesswork is a joke.
  • You don’t (and shouldn’t be) working 100 hour weeks.
  • Staying small is actually a good thing.
  • Getting funding is a slippery slope which almost always results in you losing your company.
  • Pick something and do that something really well. Don’t do a million things. This includes stripping features sometimes.
  • Make decisions quickly in the early days. Every tool you use or decision you make does not have to be perfect.
  • Be passionate and have an opinion. It’s ok to say you think a competitor sucks and say why.
  • It’s cool if customers outgrow you. You can’t be everything to everyone.
  • Don’t obsess (or even think about) the competition
  • Delight customers
  • Hire good communicators, and only when you REALLY need to hire

————> Get Rework here. <————

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The Cure for Bright Shiny Object Syndrome

Every entrepreneur (god, that word is awful) ever must go through this.

Something in your mind changes when you start your own business. The longer you’re in it the worse it gets. You start seeing ideas literally EVERYWHERE. While walking down the street, hanging out at the shops, drinking an overpriced beer at a pub, you name it. Not only that, but people will start throwing ideas at you left right and center. Before you’ve finished a couple of beers, you’ll have at least 6 apps that would be awesome for at least one person.

All of a sudden, you’ve got a brain full of potential businesses. Inevitably, most of them will be crap (read: unmarketable or unscalable) ideas, but there will be a few gems. Most of them will be in completely different directions. You will want do all of them.
bright shiny object syndrome
A common trait among successful people is at some point, they took one thing and ran with it. If it failed, they tried something else. There are of course exceptions, but I guarantee you none of them developed 10 ideas simultaneously in a bootstrapped, sole-director businesses.

How then do you decide which idea is going to be killer? This decision can be insanely painful if you are the type who struggles to make decisions on the spot.

You’re going to look everywhere for the answer. Guess what? This one is completely on you. No one else is making the decision. Not even Google.

People can offer advice, but you better make sure it is qualified advice. Your mate saying “oh yeah that’s awesome, I’d use that”, does not count as qualified advice (unless your mates are your target audience and have money). A guy who has built multiple businesses in a similar industry probably counts. Unless you’re already well networked, you’ve got some searching to do to find the latter.

A good place to start is forums, podcasts, LinkedIn groups, or anywhere you can find either a) your target audience or b) some potential mentors hanging out.

You should also be doing your own research into market size, number and size of potential competitors, and talking to people in your target audience about the problems you are going to solve. Their reactions to the problem (not solution) you describe will be a top indication. You can look at Google Adwords to see how many people are searching for specific terms to get an idea of market size. Try plugging competitors into tools like SEMRush to see how people are finding them and what ads they are running (Hint: lots of ads generally mean lots of money)

The idea is to gather as much information about each of your ideas as possible before making a decision on which idea you think is the most valuable. There will always be the risk of failure, but you can at least minimise it by making an informed decision based on real metrics. When you rush a decision like this, chances are that a year down the track after wasting huge amounts of time and maybe money, you’ll look back and think “oh man, that was dumb.”

Maybe some of your ideas will have elements that overlap with each other. If you talk to enough people in a given industry, this is pretty much guaranteed. The overlap itself could be an ever better idea for your first product, and you can expand later. MVP that shit.

Eventually, you’re just going to have to make a call and hope that it is the best based on the research you have done. For Job On Time, this took me like 5 months. WAY longer than it should have, but at least I’m feeling pretty confident.

[/serious]

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No Screen Sundays

This coming Sunday, ban yourself from any kind of backlit screen. Try it just for one day. As it turns out, this is pretty damn good at a few things…

Every so often on Startups For The Rest Of Us they drop in a little life or productivity hack. Just one of the many things that make this the best podcast aimed at SaaS. Recently they mentioned the idea of No Screen Sundays. It struck a chord with me mainly because my girlfriend has mentioned my obsession with tech and ‘having to work’ on more occasions then I’d like to admit.
No Screen Sundays
It’s a bit shit when you can’t even take a minute to hang out with your partner or a mate without business stuff kicking around in your brain. Giving No Screen Sundays a go sounded like a sweet was to break this habit.

Man, was it ever.

Like almost every day, the first thing I reached for when I woke up was my phone. May as well check emails from the comfort of bed right? Right then I remembered No Screen Sundays (let’s call it NSS from now on) and chucked it back on the bedside table. I went and hung out with the girlfriend instead, who was already up making breakfast.

Since video games were out as well, I had to find something else to do. The day was spent catching up with people who I hadn’t seen in ages, watching the gf play soccer, skateboarding and picking up the guitar again. There was also attempts at fixing both the car and laptop – stuff I’d been putting off for ages.

I kinda of forgot you could get so much squeezed into one day cause half of it would be spent on work.

I’ve done two of these in a row now. When you can’t just sit down and play games or whatever, it forces you to think about other stuff you can do, old hobbies you can take up again and people you can call who you haven’t seen in ages. All of the above sound like positives to me. The added bonus is that you’ll be itching to go on Monday. Instead of Monday’s sucking, you’ll get loads done.

Give it a go.

The Rules

No backlit screens from wake up to sleep. Kindles excluded
You can use your phone to make calls or reply to messages if they relate to meeting up with someone

Some Ideas

  • Actually hang out with your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/kids/dog
  • Long lost hobbies (that thing you’ve been saying “oh yeah I want to get back into X”)
  • New hobbies – if you’re me try skateboarding and golf
  • Call friends you haven’t seen in ages. Don’t facebook them
  • Go to the pub (preferably with friends, but we don’t judge)
  • Fix something that has been shitting you for ages
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Productivity hacks – Asana and speeding up podcasts

Here’s a quick couple of productivity hacks.

What to do if you’re nowhere near a PC and you have a rad idea or remember something that you are supposed to do? If you’re like me, you’d shoot off an email to yourself and deal with it later.

This is really awful practice for zero inbox.

Enter Asana. I’ve tried a lot of task management apps in the past and haven’t liked any as much as this. One of the best parts is being able to flick of an email to a special email address that just adds it straight into your “new tasks” so you can handle it when you actually want to, rather than have it stare at you from your inbox.

The second is all about podcasts. Podcasts rock when you’re on the move, driving, waiting for public transport or whatever. The problem is it can take a 45 minute episode to get a couple of good points.

After going through a few podcast apps on Android I discovered Pocket Casts. This is easily the best I’ve used, with the bonus (and important) feature of being able to speed up playback out of the box. Listening on 1.8x is surprisingly easy, and it means you tear through podcasts and still process all of the information.

And here’s a few great podcasts to check out:

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Ploughing over roadbloacks

Things have been way too quiet around here.

Shit kind of hit the figurative fan a few weeks back, so I’ve been busy getting my ducks in a row.

On a lazy hungover Sunday, a whole lot of stuff blew up.

  • a server failed
  • someone used our company credit card for some dodgy purchases
  • ran the the company finances, which looked grim once my wage was taken out
  • ran my own finances, which looked grim given the measly amount I pay myself
  • my laptop failed
  • uncovered some big issues in the Chimp Rewriter thesaurus algorithms (fixed now)

Literally all in one damn day. While hungover. Needless to say I wasn’t a happy chappy.

As they say, the life an entrepreneur can be a bit nuts, with a lot of road blocks to plough through. This was easily the worst day I’d had in years, but something I’ve never had to rely on kicked in and decided to get shit sorted.

A day later the thesaurus and server were fixed. Two days later I’d chased up two potential contract engineering jobs which I can fall back on if I need an out.

Three weeks later I’ve got a new laptop, have launched the web marketing arm of AkturaTech complete with new website and have a couple of clients on board. Take that shitty Sunday.

Building a SaaS is going to take a while to see any real profit. That means the current situation basically wouldn’t have changed for months. By itself this is a good enough reason to explore some other avenues, but after meeting a whole lot of ‘web marketers,’ it became pretty obvious that many of them have no clue what they are talking about. Talking to a lot of business owners, many of them were being ripped off or being fed rubbish information.

It turns out it actually excites me a lot to work on other people’s business, come up with ideas and help them make more money. There’s also the part where it is a pretty quick cashflow into the business.

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Lessons from a guy who has built three software products

Last night a group of web marketers met up at a local bar for a catch up. One guy who I had heard a lot about but never met came along. His name is John Logar, and he runs Make Every Day a Pay Day, among other things. My previous assumption was that he ran a local business consultancy and that was his core business. Turns out he has about a hundred other things going on and is absolutely crushing it.

The thing that stood out to me is the fact that he’s built 3 software products using the same idea extraction and pre selling model I am using. Here I am struggling to make $500 in pre sales (my goal) and he’s done over $25k THREE TIMES. Clearly, I’m doing something wrong.

John put me on to this video which talks about the types of questions to ask a potential customer. There’s some pretty good points in here, and it’s a good refresher on what you should and shouldn’t be asking.

Here’s a few of the things I took away from talking to John, who obviously has this shit down pat:

  • Being confident in what you are saying (even if you don’t know the answer) has got to be one of the most important things. Watching John captivate the whole table of people just by talking made this pretty obvious
  • Pulling emotion out of the customer is really important (watch video below for more)
  • If the customer isn’t saying stuff like “oh wow yeah we want something that does that like NOW”, it’s probably not the right product
  • Go after bigger guys. A lot of the companies I’ve been talking to are too small. Everything John does, even in business consulting, is big fish

I’ll follow up later with some of his ideas on where to find people which I hadn’t thought of.

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The power of actually listening

You always hear how you should be listening to people, but it’s not often you really try to apply it and get real world feedback from it.

Recently I read How To Win Friends and Influence People again. Seems like I’d forgotten about 90% of the principles in there. If you suck at networking, read this immediately.

With all the meetings and networking going on in this business, it seemed like the perfect time to really put some of it into practice.

The big things (IMO):

  • Asking questions that get the other person talking about themselves
  • Let the other person do most of the talking
  • Be genuinely interested in them and what they have to say
  • Give sincere compliments
  • Don’t freaking interrupt

This last one is a real sore spot. If someone is talking about problems they are having, the brain starts going 100 miles an hour with ways to solve it and before you know it, it’s materialised itself into some words spewing out of your mouth in the middle of someone’s sentence.

That’s REALLY shit. Just let them talk about their problems first. Write your ideas down if you have to.

Lately I’ve been squashing the hell out of this, and really paying attention to the points above. Today I had a 3 hour meeting with a crazy busy woman who runs a company with over 50 employees. On my balcony. No way did I think I’d get 3 hours. To be honest I thought she’d want to be out of here ASAP.

Towards the end she said:

The thing that is different about you is that you actually listen. And I appreciate that.

Boom, nailed it.

GenuineFakeWatches

I think the key is the genuine part. It’s a bit weird, because saying “be genuinely interested” is kind of a contradiction. How the hell do you just ‘be’ genuinely interested in someone?

The thing is, everyone has something interesting going on. If you can get that out of them by asking questions and getting them to talk about themselves, you BECOME interested in what they are saying.

By no means am I an expert in people yet, but this seems like a pretty big leap.

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Statistics on action taken so far

Time for a bit of an update with actual numbers of the action taken so far.

Cold Emails Sent: ~50
Replies to emails: 1 (2%)

Cold Phone Calls: 19
Warm Calls: 1
Positive responses: 7 (people who may be interested but didn’t set up or ask for a meeting)
Meetings from the above: 0, but 3 scheduled (15%)

Networking events attended: 8
Meetings from the above: 3 (37%)

As far as conversion rate goes, it’s pretty clear that networking is the winner. But if you look at the effort involved, there are a hell of a lot more hours in networking than there is in sending an email to somebody.

That said, a lot more can come from networking compared with cold calling from the comfort of your lounge room.

  1. You develop a network (duh). People you can ask questions, or services, or whatever
  2. You become known as someone that people can trust, and refer others to you
  3. Ideas are often thrown at you, and you have to try really hard not to chase everything

On top of this, as a result of one of the networking events, I’ve had multiple meetings with a new potential business partner. We’re looking at building an entirely separate product in an entirely different niche, of course following the same validation process and exploring the underlying pain a bit more.

Reflection

You’re probably thinking that’s nowhere near enough emails. According to Yesware, only about 10 emails of the 50 I’ve sent have even been opened. I really thought this would be higher, which has turned me off it a bit. On top of this, two different business owners specifically call the email “spam”. This makes me think that sending the email in the first place may do more harm than good, and it could be better to simply just call outright.

More testing is probably required here. But it sounds like I could already be onto a winner. Tomorrow is the first meeting I’m having with a product interface sketched up to get some feedback.

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