How NOT To Fail In Business

How NOT To Fail In Business

Are you worried you might fail after trying to start an online business?

Are you concerned that you might be embarrassed in front of your colleagues? Your friends? Your family?

You’re not alone.

It’s that fear of failure, in fact, which stops so many would-be solopreneurs dead in their tracks and prevents them from even making the attempt. That’s why we created a free, mini-eCourse to help solopreneurs overcome those fears and examine how famous entrepreneurs overcame theirs.

Some success experts advise startups to fail early, fail fast, and fail often. That’s fine if you’re 25 and spending someone else’s venture capital, but what if you’re in your 40’s or 50’s, trying to create a reliable income for your family?

Can you afford to fail? Of course you can! But should you fail needlessly? No way!

Even though starting an online business is low-risk financially, no one wants to lose time failing, especially when you could be winning! So yes, it’s a valid concern, and certainly reason for some trepidation. But there’s a deeper question you have to address first, and that is:

Would you prefer not to try?

If the answer is ‘yes’ then you really have nothing to worry about. Presumably you’re among those who are content with their current situation and lifestyle, and have no need to take any risk at all to achieve bigger life goals.

If that’s you, seriously, congratulations! For my own part, I took my risk many years ago when I started a social media marketing blog and business of my own. Now I am also the CMO of While I will continue to grow and explore new directions, I feel no need to dive into any new ventures.

If, on the other hand, you answered that question with a ‘no’ you can’t afford not to try then the rest of this article, and some bonus resources, are for you!

How To Try Do And Not Fail

I would be remiss if I didn’t invoke the jedi master and point out that

Do or do not. There is no try.

And right he was.

Now that we’ve determined that you can’t afford not to, you’ve moved beyond trying and into doing.

You will start a new online business there’s no try about it. Or if you already have one, and are struggling, perhaps wondering what’s wrong, now is the time to decide NOT to fail.

So the question now is, how do I make sure that I do everything within my power to make it a success?

For that, we need to understand three core principles:

  • What is Business Failure?
  • How Do We Avoid Business Failure?
  • How Do We Achieve Business Success?

Why Do Businesses (People) Fail?

There is little mystery to failure. Sure, there are sometimes surprising circumstances which occur and have a powerful, negative impact on a business. But that’s not the norm.

I would say that the answer is sometimes right under your nose, but in fact it may be inside your head. We can get in our own way, trip ourselves up habits or approaches or reactions can end up hurting our chances in the long run. They are silent killers since we can’t see them.

In his book, Why People Fail, friend and SiteSell CEO Ken Evoy writes:

As Founder of SiteSell Inc., I have seen hundreds of thousands of small-business people use SBI!’s process and tools. Posts in the Solo Build It! Forums (the best helped and be helped community on the Internet) reveal results that range from wild success to failure to not even getting started!

But such different outcomes?

What magic attribute separates the winners from the unsuccessful?

I’ve seen ordinary-IQ folks succeed beyond belief. And I’ve seen bright people fail miserably.

So the difference is not intelligence.

I’ve seen a few lucky stiffs come up with the right idea at the right place at the right time – don’t count on duplicating lightning in a bottle. I’ve also seen people try as hard as is humanly possible and fall flat on their faces.

So the difference is not trying hard, although that certainly helps to improve the success equation, when combined with the refusal to give up and the ability to learn from failure.

The bottom line?

There is no single path to success. But there sure are clear habits that almost guarantee failure.

In case you don’t already known Ken, he’s a former doctor who used to teach and practice Emergency Medicine at Mcgill University in Montreal, Canada. He was a successful serial entrepreneur before he started in 1997.

There’s a long and winding road between then and my joining SiteSell as CMO in 2014. This video sums up 20 years nicely.

Ken discovered that most solopreneurs fail simply because they get overwhelmed they need to focus on what they know, their niche, while Solo Build It! (our flagship product) takes care of everything related to business-building: step-by-step process, tools, guidance and support, and auto-updating (no need for you to keep up SBI! has your back).

The result? SBI! delivers unmatched rates and levels of solopreneur success. But still, some did not succeed. Those interested Ken. Applying his medical training to a study of those who failed revealed a large group of people who simply got in their own way.

In other words, some failures are totally avoidable. Others can see it, but not the actual person, who can’t figure out what’s wrong.

What’s fascinating is that Ken goes on to outline 10+ personality types and attributes that will doom you to failure if left unchecked. He also includes three other patterns for failure that need to be recognized and managed.

For example:

Nah! No research or prep work is needed for me. My gut tells me what to do – start running, don’t worry about direction.

I’m excited. I have a great idea. Let’s go. Just give it a shot

even if it’s in the dark.

Welcome to Mr/Ms FIRE-Ready-Aim.

A great idea is easy. But executing that

idea can take a year of your life.

Solopreneurs do not tend to think of failure in those terms. Sure it costs little to start an online business. So it costs little to fail

But that’s only true if you value your time at zero. So getting back to Mr./Ms. FIRE-Ready-Aim, s/he’ll waste a year due to an insistence of using gut instinct. Research could have proven a flaw that destined the effort to fail!

The cautionary tale here is that jumping in with both feet and without a clue as to where you’re headed is a surefire way to enjoy a fast plummet with a sudden stop.

The good news is, if you take the time to review and seriously think about the points made in Why People Fail you’ll have an opportunity to identify potential problems before they become real issues, and correct them.

You’ll almost surely recognize yourself in this invaluable little book. You won’t be as badly off as the humorous exaggerations, but you’ll get the point. And that is the key

Make the problem visible. Once you have insight, you can manage the issue.

The best news? Why People Fail is completely free! Just download it here.

Do You Know What Failure Looks Like?

In 1999, Touchstone Pictures released a film adaptation of the Michael Crichton book, The 13th Warrior.

The story follows an exiled Arab poet through his journey into northern Europe and his adventure alongside a group of Norse barbarians.

The movie is filled with action, suspense, and interesting dialogue from Antonio Banderas as the poet, Ahmad ibn Fadlan.

I’ve always enjoyed the film, and particularly liked the great Omar Sharif’s minor role as Ahmad’s guide.

The movie was a complete disaster.

Production of the film, which included elaborate sets and costume design, ran northwards of $160,000,000, yet box office proceeds were a paltry $61,700,000.

That movie lost Touchstone one hundred million dollars! Yikes!

It was so bad, Sharif reportedly retired from acting for years saying, Bad pictures are very humiliating.

When it’s as simple as looking at a dollar amount investment and comparing it against a dollar amount return, determining success or failure is simple.

What about when it’s not quite that cut and dried?

The fact is, success doesn’t look the same to everyone. We can certainly all agree that it’s the absence of failure.

But to really understand what solopreneur success looks like, and how to completely eliminate failure, I want to introduce you to a new book from Ken:

Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda: Turn Solopreneur Failure into Solopreneur Success

There are of course other ways to fail beyond tripping all over yourself. Ken has pushed beyond his original booklet into a complete study of solopreneur failure.

This is the type of unique work that can only come from someone with Ken’s unique background, along with 20 years of working with solopreneurs.

I don’t want to play the spoiler role, but I can tell you that this is an original and valuable look at a rarely discussed topic. Here’s what I mean:

How many articles have you seen that start, How to Succeed by _____ or How to Become Successful at _____? Loads of them, right?

Now, how many times do you see a post entitled, How Not to Fail at_____? Zero?

There is nothing online like this. It’s something that every solopreneur should read. The worst that could happen is that you discover you are perfect and learned nothing.

Everyone else is going to thank me for sharing this remarkable 47-page addition to solopreneurship literature.

Available on Amazon now (FOR FREE for a limited time!)

For a limited time!
NOTE: You can use a Kindle device or download the free Kindle app for iOS, Android, PC or Mac. You also don’t need to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, but rather, simply click on the Buy now button to get this ebook for free.

Good Defence is As Important As Great Offence

Start winning by blocking failure!Blocking a basketball shot is not as sensational as making a long basket with a perfect shot, but it is just as valuable.

Start winning by blocking failure!

To do that, you need to know every possible point of failure by solopreneurs.

This book will help you identify those failure points so that you can move past them, enabling you to realize your potential and achieve success.

Once you clear the road to success, all you need is the right roadmap

How Do We Achieve Business Success?

After you’ve read Why People Fail and Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda: Turn Solopreneur Failure into Solopreneur Success, you will have a complete picture of what failure looks like, why it happens to different kinds of people, and how to completely avoid and eliminate it from your business-building efforts.

The next step is a time-tested and proven process for growing a business that’s built to last.

As Ben Franklin said, By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. And preparation through the use of a process is definitely important. But perhaps what’s more important is choosing the right process.

How do you know that a process for building an online business is the right one?

Just look for proof.

  • What’s the track record for success?
  • Where are the case studies from different industries and approaches?
  • How does the typical solopreneur perform compared to others?
  • Who are some of the people using and recommending the process?

Here at SiteSell, the process part of our Solo Build It! business-building platform is called C T P M and it represents the core of training and business philosophy.

And do we offer proof? We sure do. But no one else does.

Not just one page but multiple pages of case studies, results, success stories, multi-year reviews, and more.

We recently concluded an exhaustive, objective, head-to-head study and review that compared SBI! with another system, Wealthy Affiliate, that claimed to be the best system for success. Sadly, the only result they excel at is failure for those who get suckered into the GRQ system. (read the full study here)

SBI! was shown to be 33X more effective at enabling members to success, while Wealthy Affiliate proved to be a waste of time and money for 87% of those who signed up and made an effort.

You’re ready to conquer failure. With Solo Build It! and an entire community of like-minded solopreneurs by your side, you’re ready to succeed at building an online business.

That’s the SBI! Advantage.

You’re Ready To Win!

The 90 Day Confidence of Success Guarantee turnspurchase into risk-free trial.

Author information

Mike Allton

Mike Allton is the Chief Marketing Officer for SiteSell. He has spent years helping solopreneurs achieve success online through the precepts of content marketing: write great content, share that to social, and drive new leads & sales.

Mike’s focus is to reach people who have a passion for something and show them how it’s possible to turn that dream into a real online business and income.

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Go Ahead Leaders, Take That Vacation

7 Strategies to Optimize Your Time Off and Come Back Refreshed

The days are getting shorter again, but it’s not too late to take a few days off before the end of summer. August is often the perfect month to take some time away from work.

You should consider getting away for a bit because you probably need it. Vacations are vital for rejuvenation, especially for high-achievers.

And yet people constantly tell me they don’t know how to get time away or what to do with themselves when they get time off. So I’ve put together 7 strategies for how leaders can best plan and enjoy vacations.

1. Understand the Various Types of Vacations

Vacations come in different varieties. There are spiritual pilgrimages, health improvement vacations, change of pace vacations, rest and relaxation vacations, sightseeing vacations, and other kinds of vacations. You can see one longer list here.

2. Choose the Vacation that Makes Sense for You

There is no wrong answer, but it’s helpful to know what kind of vacation you want so that you can plan accordingly. Money matters as a consideration. I wouldn’t go into debt to go on a vacation, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking time off.

If you just need a change of pace, a staycation might work for you. Don’t go into the office, don’t commute, ignore all email and other social networks, and just have a good time with family and friends. Maybe read some books that you’ve been putting off, barbecue in the backyard, and sleep in.

Several years ago-when I was still CEO of Thomas Nelson-my family joined me after a business trip to Brazil with a rest and relaxation vacation in the fishing village of Buzios. We hung out there for a week, and it was totally refreshing. We ate fresh fish every day. We got massages. We laid out in the sun. It was fantastic.

3. Get Caught Up Before You Leave

I’m never more productive than I am in the few days before I go on vacation. Even if you have to work late for a few nights before you leave, you’re going to rest better knowing your physical and digital inboxes are empty and that there’s not some important task left half-done.

4. Delegate Authority to Act in Your Absence

If you don’t have anybody working for you, this may not be important. But if you’re a leader and you have a department or executive assistant or people counting on you for decisions, then you have to set this up.

If you already have a number 2 to delegate that authority to, that’s great. If not, then I suggest you do what I did at Thomas Nelson. I picked someone and sent an email out to the leadership team saying While I’m away, I’ve authorized Joe to make any decisions that need to be made on my behalf. He has my complete confidence. Whatever decisions he makes will have my support when I return.

5. Set Other People’s Expectations

Sending that email is an important part of setting other people’s expectations for what to do at work while you’re on vacation. If you don’t tell people you’re on vacation, they’re not going to know. They’re going to still send you emails or make phone calls, and they’re going to expect a response.

You have to make sure your voicemail and your email notifications are turned on (you know, your out-of-office messages). You have to tell people you’re not going to be checking messages. Then tell them what to do in case of an emergency.

You should also tell them when you’re going to return, and tell them not to expect replies to messages sent while you were on vacation. If it’s not resolved by the time you’re back, they can contact you again about it.

6. Focus on the Purpose of Your Vacation

Focusing on the vacation helps you to be fully present. Don’t think about the office. Don’t think about all the stuff you left undone, which, if you followed the previous step, you didn’t do. Don’t wonder what’s happening in your absence. Don’t think about what you’re going to be doing when you get back. Don’t be planning the future.

Instead, really focus on the people you’re with and the purpose for which you went on the vacation to begin with. Enjoy doing something wholly different from your usual workaday routine. This is the whole point of vacations. Miss it, and you’ll miss out.

7. Block Out a Catch up Day for Your Return

On the day I come back to work after a vacation, I have no meetings and take no phone calls. Usually, in my out-of-office message, I tell people that I’m coming back to work a day later than the day I come back to town. I don’t lie about it. I say, I’ll be available on such-and-such a day.

That gives me some buffer time when I can really catch up, where I can process email and other inboxes. Then I can hit the ground running again, feeling both refreshed and totally caught up.

Vacations are vital for rejuvenation, especially for high-achievers.


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Question: What’s holding you back from taking that vacation that you already know you need? What step will you take this week to make it happen? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Overcome the Fear That’s Holding You Back

3 Ways to Learn From the World’s Best Athletes

Many of us know what it’s like to feel stuck in our careers. We settle into a particular role and one day we look up and wonder why we’ve spent so long doing something we’re not fully invested in.

There are many reasons why this happens, but a big one is fear of failure. We know we can do this one thing, and we don’t want to risk bellyflopping if we try something else.

Ask a Sports Agent

Molly Fletcher can help us get over that. She spent decades as a sports agent representing professional athletes. ESPN called her the female Jerry Maguire.

Fletcher then took what she learned in sports and brought those lessons into the broader business world as a popular speaker and author. Her latest book-which I spoke with her about recently-is titled Fearless at Work.

I took away three big strategies for dealing with fear.

1. Tell Yourself the Right Story

Fletcher saw up close how some of world’s best athletes deal with fear. She was surprised to learn that they don’t try to suffocate it. Rather, they recognize it, they embrace it and they run through a mental loop about it.

Athletes say things to themselves that help. Instead of telling themselves things like ‘Man, I’m scared. I hope I don’t do X,’ they tell themselves ‘I’m going to play the best game I’ve ever played in my life. I’m going to do everything I can to support this team and we’re walking away with a championship,’ she said.

She emphasized that’s true off the playing field as well: As businesspeople, we may be walking into a big meeting or a big sales call or a big pitch.

What we say to ourselves before that equivalent of the big game matters. We ought to be telling ourselves that we will do our best and that will lead to success, one way or another.

2. Have a Growth Mindset

Fletcher saw athletes bump up against their limitations and saw the discomfort that caused. The ones that succeeded did so because they believed that going through the discomfort could lead to better results.

They asked themselves, What can I do inside of this moment to allow myself to grow? And that is a very good question for all of us.

3. Take It in Small Steps

You can’t go to bed and say, ‘Tomorrow I am going to be fearless’ and expect success, Fletcher said.

Rather, fear is best pushed back in small ways over long periods.

You have to determine to be less fear-controlled and to take practical small steps, every day, to eventually put the best version of yourself back in the driver’s seat, she said.

No Fear?

Success in these things isn’t measured by fear ceasing to exist. I have a horrible fear of public speaking. All of the preparation and all of the speaking that I do makes that fear more manageable, but it doesn’t go away. And it never will.

It won’t go away because fear is just a part of being human. It has its uses. We should listen to it. But letting it control us is a different thing that should be resisted.

If I can step out on that stage, you can overcome your fear of failure, too.

Fear is best pushed back in small ways over long periods.


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Question: What fears are holding you back from what you want to accomplish? What do you need to do about it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Why Hide a Perfectly Good Image? You Likely Make This Biggest Mistake, Too!

Why Hide a Perfectly Good Image? You Likely Make This Biggest Mistake, Too!

Most people wouldn’t do it if they stopped and thought about it. And yet more people than not do hide their images, without even knowing it.

It happens like this

  1. They post an image to Instagram.
  2. They post the Instagram link to Twitter. The tweets look like this

Imageless Tweet

What a waste!

Almost no one will click on an link. But everyone will appreciate a beautiful image, like this one that could have appeared on the first tweet above


Instead, it’s just a link. Worst mistake possible!

At most, 1-2% might click on that link. You lose the 98-99% who would have seen the image on Twitter, who might have engaged, cutting engagement to near-zero.

It’s the worst of both worlds .

Here’s What to Do Instead

Crop the square Instagram version of a photo to a 2:1 landscape ratio and post it directly into a tweet


(Note: 2:1 is the optimal shape for Twitter in the mobile app, which is how the vast majority will see Twitter. Web-based use is low and decreasing.)

Customize the tweet text, too.

If this is taken from your own Instagram account, there’s no need to credit it if you’re focusing on growing Twitter. Or add a link to follow me on Instagram, including a #BestofInstagram and/or #BestofIg hashtag (if you have room).

If it’s from someone else’s Instagram account, give credit.

So many people take the lazy man’s way to post their Instagram link on Twitter. Keep an eye open for it in your Twitter notifications.

Instead, download the best images from Instagram (yours and other people’s) and post them to your Twitter account, cropping for Twitter, adding your own text and, where appropriate, giving credit to the original poster (who will thank you!).

Following this simple advice will yield a jump in Twitter engagement!

How much of a jump?

Dan Zarrella analyzed 400,000 tweets and found that a tweet with an image is almost twice as likely to get a retweet than one without.

Using a Pic with Twitter

That, in our experience of studying hundreds of solopreneur clients, is conservative. Suffice it to say that you should not tweet without an image!

Bottom Line Takeaway?


Never tweet an Instagram link. Tweet images, yours and those of others.

Always add a photo directly to every tweet, Instagram or not.

Need more help on posting photos or GIFs on Twitter? You’ll find it in Twitter’s Help Center.

Author information

Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)

Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell’s comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.

The post Why Hide a Perfectly Good Image? You Likely Make This Biggest Mistake, Too! appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

Fake News, Fake Reviews: Spot ’em and Stop ’em!

Fake News, Fake Reviews: Spot 'em and Stop 'em!

This week, I have some good news for you. You may have heard it before, but stay with me on this.

Bitter chocolate may taste bad, but it’s good for your health.

Not only is it good for your health, it can help you lose weight. A team of German researchers found that people on a low-carb diet lost weight 10 percent faster if they ate a chocolate bar every day.

How do I know it’s true? I checked. It had scientific backing. It was not backed by the chocolate industry but by Louisiana State University. The names of some eminent scientists were linked to it, including Dr. Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D. It contained compelling information such as:

The good microbes, such as Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria, feast on chocolate, Moore said in the news release. When you eat dark chocolate, they grow and ferment it, producing compounds that are anti-inflammatory.

It was formally presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Dallas, Texas, and published by the Institute of Diet and Health, not to mention the International Archives of Medicine.

The story, including its promotional videoclips, was then picked up by the mainstream media across 20 countries: CBS News, the Huffington Post, Bild, Europe’s largest circulation newspaper, Cosmopolitan magazine, the Daily Mail

Bitter chocolate may taste bad, but it's good for your health.

So that’s it. Job done. Eat as much chocolate as you like. It’s not just good for you, you’ll lose weight.

Except – it’s not, and you won’t.

The study was real, but the results and the ensuing media choc-fest were fake(1). The Institute of Diet and Health does not exist; the International Archives of Medicine charged $600 to publish the study without querying the provenance of the research; the media picked it up and ran the story without question.

The whole episode was a hoax, perpetrated by a scientist who wanted to make three points:

  • Fake news is easy to spread.
  • Fake reviews follow fake news as night follows day.
  • Journalism is based on selling papers, not on tracking the truth.

This was an elaborate hoax, designed for the purpose of proving points about sloppy scientific research and sloppy journalism. How could anyone have known it was fake, until the perpetrator held his hands up?


There were several points at which it could – and should – have been discovered. It’s not rocket science. Had

  • anyone bothered to search for Dr. Johannes Bohannon (who does not exist – the author was John Bohannon)
  • anyone searched for the Institute of Diet and Health (which was entirely fictitious)
  • anyone thought to ask where the peer-reviewed results were (there weren’t any)
  • reporters asked scientific or nutritional scientists for their views on the study (the results of which were deliberately flawed)
  • scientists, journalists or readers given even a glance at the promotional videos or images (all of which were, at least, tongue in cheek)

they would instantly have known that the story was, at best, flawed, and at worst had no basis in reality.

But they didn’t ask questions. They didn’t do any searches. They used vaguely pornographic images of women eating chocolate. They never saw the tongue in cheek ballad.

Millions of people were fooled. Why?

Partly because they wanted to be. Anyone who needs to lose weight and loves chocolate – and who of us doesn’t? – would be delighted at this story.

Dig deeper? Why would they? They were hearing news they wanted to hear.

In our previous article, we looked at why fake reviews matter. People – we – are desperate for reliable information. We rely on the media to check its sources. We rely on scientists to give us unbiased, properly reviewed information.

But often, we don’t get it.

How to tell the difference between truth and fake? And what to do when we do discover illegal practices?

This article will show you how to spot a fake review, how to ignore all the noise, and, most importantly, how to do your own simple digging to figure it out for yourself.

We can learn a lot from the chocolate story. Because, at the end of the day, it’s not rocket science – and there are ways of helping put an end to the fakery.

Let’s deal with the smaller products first.

Spot ’em – Fake Product Reviews

The bad news is that human beings are lousy at identifying deceptive reviews. In a test of 800 reviews of Chicago hotels researchers discovered an intriguing correspondence between the linguistic structure of deceptive reviews and fiction writing.Cornell University(2)

In article 1 of this series we saw how companies like Amazon, TripAdvisor, and Yelp depend on hundreds of thousands of consumer reviews that collectively point you to the best of whatever.

Reviews are core to the business model of the companies that aggregate the reviews. They work hard to minimize fake reviews because it is good business to prevent customer disappointment due to incorrect information.

Faith in the reviews is paramount. A threat to the credibility of its reviews is a threat to the business itself.

There are honest reviews as well as fake ones, of course. But there’s no central body of authority to rely on when it comes to affiliate marketing, no single agency to tell you who’s good and who’s bad.

In order for sites that rely on reviews to retain their credibility, many have started making efforts to crack down on paid for and fake reviews(3). But there needs to be ample evidence.

And often, that’s not easy to track.

So you have to do due diligence for yourself, whether you’re buying a book, a dishwasher, a hotel room or a Ferrari.

Here are some pointers to watch out for.

1. Fight technology with technology: You know the saying: It takes one to know one? A good way to assess whether a review is computer-generated is to use another computer.

Or in this case, a computer program.

Fakespot is an online tool that helps you work out which are the trustworthy reviews and which are not on both Amazon and Yelp. Simply paste a review’s URL into Fakespot’s search engine and wait. The results are fascinating.

This random example, which scored 4.5 stars on Amazon, was adjusted to 1 after analysis.


It may not always be totally accurate, but it’s a good place to start.

ReviewSkeptic is a similar piece of software dealing specifically with hotel reviews. It claims to be able to pick out fake hotel reviews with 90% accuracy.

2. Check the reviewer’s profile: Most sites ask users to register an account before leaving a review. Click on the username to see past reviews. Most real people buy a wide range of products from companies like Amazon, and so will have a wide range of reviews.

Look for patterns – is this person only reviewing one type of product, or one company? Is she leaving only very positive – or negative – feedback?

3. Compensation: Is this review paid? Did the reviewer receive the product in return for a review? If so, it’s not necessarily fake – but it may be biased.

4. Review Quality: Reviews that rely, as many do, on individuals being paid small amounts of money to write as many as possible, will be short and non-specific. The aim here is to bump the item into the 5 star category quickly by posting as many excellent reviews as possible. So the author needs to be able to copy and paste a large number in a short time.

Look for words like great product, wonderful service or can’t be beaten.

5. Lack of detail: Similarly, the researchers from Cornell University found that reviewers of hotel rooms, for example, did not talk about the specifics of the hotel at all. They couldn’t – they had never been there. So they’d talk instead of the reason they were there.

Spent a wonderful weekend here with the family; will always use this hotel for future business trips are the kinds of things you’re looking for.

Sites like Expedia have taken steps to ensure that reviews are left by bona fide travelers. It marks those reviews Verified. Check with whichever website you’re booking through whether their reviews are, too.

6. Lack of experience: Similarly for physical items, if the reviewer has never had it, the explanation of what’s good and bad about it – or even how to use it – will be limited. If a review sounds more like a product manual than a real-life experience – it probably is.

On Amazon, look for reviews marked Verified Purchase for reviews by people who have bought the product.

7. Use of language: Some unscrupulous companies will provide templates for their reviewers to make it easier for quick copy and pasting. If you see the same or similar words, phrases and even diagrams or comparison charts recycled in different reviews, beware.

Watch for over-the-top words, too: best thing ever! and equally worst thing ever! without any explanation or balance is likely to be fake.

8. Blinding with science: fake reviews for health products particularly will often use a long list of scientific facts. Think back to the chocolate article: Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria.

9. When haters start to love: One of the most common forms of fake review tactics is for the reviewer to be adamant that they hated a product but were given one, for example, as a gift and – hey presto! – they suddenly discovered it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

This kind of review is often over-the-top enthusiastic. Look for excessive use of exclamation points or question marks

I was given different cleansers over the years. I didn’t like the first few due to a combo of the scents and the struggle I had trying to use them. When I got this one I wasn’t in love with the scent but I dealt with it. I tried to get through the whole pot and lo and behold I love it!!!!! The scent really grew on me and it hasn’t broken me out!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10. Is the review all or nothing?: Fake reviews tend to be either 1 star, or 5. There’s rarely an in-between. Make sure you check reviews at 2, 3 and 4 stars too – real reviews tend to be more moderate.

Spot ’em – Fake Trade Reviews

Moving into a different sector, if a product or service is not from a provider you already know and trust, you will need to conduct additional due diligence before even looking at the product itself.

Making money, along with pain, illness, weight loss, diet and some other categories are where you’ll find vulnerable consumers, and that’s where you’ll also find the most dishonest affiliates. The worst view these consumers as suckers, nothing more.

These types of people used to take advantage of people through direct mail, offline. They have all moved online, along with hundreds of thousands of others who either have no conscience or who re-draw the good-bad line.

They have turned to the dark side of affiliate marketing to make a buck at the sucker’s expense.

Here are some pointers to calling out the dodgy players in this part of the marketing world.

  1. Research the trader: Don’t rush into buying a product because it sounds good. No marketing department writes about their product to make it sound bad. Take time to investigate the company first.
  2. Check the domain name on Make sure the owner’s full address and contact details are listed. If not – beware.
  3. Are the business a member of a trade body? For example, is that package tour with such great reviews protected by the Air Traffic Organizer’s Licence (ATOL)?
  4. Check approved provider status: Are companies selling financial products on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (USA) or Financial Conduct Authority (UK) register of approved providers?
  5. Security: If you’re buying online, is the website secure? Look for https in the URL and a green padlock in the address bar.
  6. Products: Once you start looking at products the company is selling, the same issues apply as to the products group above.

Spot ’em – Affiliate Programs

Before you sink a dime into a vague online business opportunity promising high income and which pressures you to act quickly, you need to do some research and ask some key questions. Find out how many people earn the $15,000 a month the company is promising and review its income disclosure form. How many retail sales does the company make outside of selling products to fellow distributors? Those rags-to-riches stories that you’re hearing about well the only way they’ve made real money is by feeding off of the likes of you.Truth in Advertising

In articles 1 (What Is a Fake Review, and Why Should You Care?) and 2 (Peeling Away the Dark Side of Internet Marketing) of this series, we looked at the potential for affiliate programs in particular to hurt, under the guise of helping.

The final article in our series on The Definitive Guide to Alexa looked specifically at how to spot schemes and fake reviews in this sector. I won’t review those indicators here, but let’s look at some basic clues.

1. Face reality: First of all, recognize that this is real. Most of us are honest. We know that liars and cons exist. But we don’t twig to the possibility that a great-looking, honest-sounding blogger could simply be lying for a buck.

There are so many fraudulent reviews out there, all trying to separate you from your money. The number of websites that are promoting a product is, therefore, no indication of quality. In fact, those with a ton of reviews are likely to be sites with 10 tons of affiliates.

2. Remember Bait and Switch: In Article 2 we looked at how a review of Product A that leads you instead to Product B is already misleading. Compare the quality of the two reviews. If you see a great deal more effort going into B, you’re likely about to become a victim of bait-and-switch.

3. Check the URL: Hover over the link and check your browser’s status bar. Is the URL clean or does it have affiliate-type encoding (not Google’s UTM tracking)? If it seems to have an affiliate URL, does the review identify itself as being written by an affiliate?

If not, it’s a fake review. No matter how good a review may seem, if it uses affiliate links and does not notify you that it earns affiliate income, it’s a fake review.

So, ignore it. If it has broken the rules of notification, what is it hiding? Why should you trust it?

4. Knowledge of the product: As with Amazon or hotel products, note whether affiliate reviews give you the sense of deep knowledge and use of the product. Forget if they say they use it – we already know that fake reviewers lie! Instead, does the content itself indicate deep use and knowledge?

Ignore the number of comments that support it. Many operations work in groups.

5. Show me the proof: Where proof is possible with a physical product, we might insist on seeing it, or hearing about the reviewer’s actual experience of it. If a review is about pain relief, we might expect to see studies from respected authorities. If it’s about a vacuum machine, we’d want to see information about comparative vacuum power and perhaps a demonstration of the various attachments.

It’s no different when it comes to Internet marketing success – except you should go one step further and insist upon verifiable success.

What does that mean?

Let’s take a real life example.

How to Spot a Fake Success Story

The most important criterion of a fake review is that it lacks proof.

Think about this for a moment. You read a wonderful recounting of rags to riches – a genuine solopreneur success story. Or is it?

Scam artists flat-out lie about this stuff to get your money. Often there may be a kernel of truth, but the truth of reality is far from the fiction of the story.

How can you tell what’s true?

1. Insist on proof.

Let’s suppose you’ve read some really strong reviews about an online business builder. Oddly, they all started by reviewing a different product and moved you to this one. But it sure sounds good.

Or maybe you just keep reading great reviews of, say, Wealthy Affiliate (we’ve discussed them before) with no negatives at all.

There’s a sales technique called social proof. That can be done in a variety of ways, from brief love it testimonials to detailed stories. They can appear anywhere, in any form. And anyone can write them – including the business owner.

But reading no negatives would alert you in the physical product world to the possibility of a fake review. And it’s exactly the same in the online world.

Regardless of which company it is, if it suggests business-building success, insist on proof.

Proof of what kind?

  • Domain Names.

    Only one thing matters when it comes to a product that claims it’s going to help you build a profitable online business: domain names.

    No story is worth a penny if it’s not accompanied by the domain name. 10,000 positive reviews can be safely ignored if there’s no domain name attached to them. If there’s no domain name attached to the I make $10K/month and rising story, I don’t believe it. Neither should you.

    A successful website is like a delicious hamburger. Don’t accept a big fluffy bun of highly convincing copywriting. Keep this really simple

    Insist on domain names – the beef of hamburger proof.

    Because when they include domain names of loads of solopreneurs who actually are their customers, that’s really all that matters, right?

    Great! But – once you have the domain name, what do you do with it?

    Try this.

    a. Review the site itself, get a sense for the quality.

    b. Contact the owner and ask him how he likes the product, really.

    c. Use the domain name to verify traffic by entering the URL into 1, 2 or all 3 of these 3 traffic-measuring tools: Alexa, SimilarWeb and SEMrush.

    Each works differently, so using all 3 to cross-check provides the highest level of certainty. Get full info about how this works, here and see here for definitions of high, medium and failure traffic.

    When these tools tell you that traffic is undetectable, that is as low as it goes. If all 3 confirm, you can be pretty sure the site’s traffic is zero or near zero.

    d. Assess the likelihood of real vs. fake: This type of success story, one that claims to be making huge amounts of money, yet has near-zero traffic, only has two possible realities. Either

    • The story is a lie. This is, by far, the most common situation


    • The site gets a few visitors per year but has an extremely high-paying monetization model. For example, a site may only received 5 visitors per day – a disaster for most solopreneurs.

    But if only 2 of those 1800 visitors per year buy a multi-million dollar piece of real estate resulting in $100,000+ commissions, that’s great income.

    But while this is possible – and while there are many local businesses that should be doing exactly this – these are not the types of niches that most solopreneurs know.

    2. Insist on real niches.


    If you know and love a niche that’s not related to the topic of make money, beware the product that features testimonials and success stories that are largely related to some aspect of making money online (MMO).

    The dynamic of visitors to these sites is different than what we call real niches. Instead of people spending money to make money, which is broadly what happens in make money niches, most people on this planet spend money to buy something (maybe a vacation to Anguilla, or an ebook about why your exotic turtles die).

    Much of the make money advice does not work or works poorly. It needs to be adjusted, often substantially. In fact, the mindset of the guru is so stuck in that niche that much of the advice can be counter-productive.

    SBI! strenuously suggests staying away from those congested, hard-to-win, shark-infested and demoralizing niches. Our Action Guide goes deep to help you find a winning niche, and our Study shows how wonderfully that works for SBIers.

    3. Look for real people.

    Real proof means real people who’ve built real online businesses with the recommended product.

    Here at Solo Build It!, you won’t find J. Smith from Tuscon type testimonials, or photoshopped images of checks.

    Each of our solopreneur success stories is well-documented and verifiable. The featured SBI! member can be reached in person.

    Here are some examples of real proof. Choose between

    Long-term, Verifiable Case Studies

    These go deep, examining the long-term progress of a representative sample of SBIers. Follow their periodic updates (both ups and downs) over the course of years – some have been using SBI! For a decade or more.

    Current Solopreneur Successes

    In addition to the long-term case studies, we also present recent success stories in our blog. Each comes with valuable, real-world Takeaway Lessons. And again, the SBIer can be contacted personally.

    Top 0.5% Results (500 More Successes)

    Here, we go wide, presenting 500 high-performing sites that cover the gamut of major niche categories. No matter what your niche may be, it’s winnable with SBI!.

    Tip: Don’t just take our or the SBIer’s word for it.

    When evaluating any of these stories, enter the domain name into and Check for yourself how well the domain name is doing in terms of traffic from search engines and other sources.

    Fake Reviews: Stop ’em – It’s Up to Us All to Fix This

    If your guard is up, you’ll be able to follow these self-protection plans before you pull out your wallet.

    But now, I’d like you to adopt a frame of mind. Remember, we’re talking about fraud artists who are out to make money by tricking you out of yours! So I’d like you to

    Get Mad as Hell!

    We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy Well I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad I want you to get up and go to the window and open it and stick your head out and yell I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.Peter Finch, in Network, 1976


    Now that we have that off our chest, let’s look at what we can do, practically, to stop this despicable practice.

    Stop ’em – Relying on the Law

    Advertising Standards Authority

    Anyone can be targeted by a scammer by reporting scams we can all play an important part in protecting ourselves and others from falling victim.Advertising Standards Authority, UK

    Fake reviews are illegal. Across the world, they’re subject to misleading advertising law.

    America’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for monitoring and enforcing rules against posting fake reviews. Dan Warner of Kelly-Warner Defamation Law Attorneys says this:

    The FTC’s mission is to rid the marketplace of unfair and deceptive marketing – and it has the authority to both fine and shut down operations.(4)

    And it’s not just the FTC:

    So when we spot them we can expect the law to protect us, right?

    Kind of.

    This is a complex issue. For individuals, solopreneurs and small businesses, solving it via legislation is not always easy. (For large businesses, it’s a bit easier. Amazon has recently begun to sue over one thousand people for writing fake reviews(5).)

    But it’s certainly a place to start. If we don’t each play our part in alerting authorities to the problem, we are avoiding playing our part in a solution.

    What You Can Do

    If you come across a review you believe to be fake, let your national authorities know. Report illegal practices at

    We’d love to see a powerful message sent by a judge who throws in a good punitive amount of compensation for victims who lose money, time (opportunity cost), goals, dreams and self-esteem (those last 3 are pain and suffering).

    But there are other good opportunities for extinguishing fake reviews.

    Stop ’em with Google

    Google has recently launched an initiative called Verified Customer Reviews to protect the credibility of its various merchant services. So it has taken steps to manage fake reviews in its own merchant properties – but it has a much bigger problem with its search algorithm.

    Google does not band-aid a solution. You may remember Googlebombs – high rankings organized by massive inbound linking programs. Some were publicly embarrassing for Google (and its victims!), but ultimately they solved it by getting better, not by specifically recognizing and detecting that one scenario.

    We’ve seen it, too, with Panda and Penguin. Google released fixes for low-quality content and rank manipulating only when many businesses, big and small, had almost overwhelmed it with a flood of no-value, mostly regurgitated content for content’s sake and conniving link-based strategies.

    In each case, Google only moved when the problem impacted the quality of a large enough number of search results to make a perceptible difference.

    Fake reviews feel like specialized, long-tail pap that Panda should be spotting. Worse than no-value, fake reviews are negative value. They lead consumers to making wrong choices.

    That raises the obvious question

    When is Google going to worry about the huge problem of fake reviews, written by affiliates, that rank highly in the SERPs?

    Although widespread, it may not yet occupy a high enough percent of Google searches to make it a priority. It’s a serious fail that enables malicious players to use fake reviews profitably.

    If Google close this door by penalizing fake reviews, the practice will stop – because it will stop being profitable.

    Why Does Google Search Not Prioritize This?

    There’s little blowback from searchers. Consider this

    Few victims of fake affiliate reviews think back far enough to realize that it was Google that ranked fake reviews to the top. By the time they realize that a product is nowhere near as good as the fake review suggests, it’s too late.

    The more people who meticulously report fake reviews by those who either promote them or fail to discipline their affiliates for the widespread practice, the more likely that Google picks up on both volume and patterns of a problem.

    What You Can Do

    When you find a fake review, let Google know.

    At the bottom of the search page, click on the Send feedback link

    Google Send Feedback

    This opens the Send feedback window.

    Enter text that explains the fake review you have discovered (text in the example below starts with The following results).

    The example explains the search, and has

    • copy-and-pasted the 3 URLs of the fake reviews
    • added an attachment of 2 of the 3 results, using a simple screenshot tool that appears when you leave Included screenshot’ checked.

    Click SEND.

    These companies should take note. Just as Panda cleaned out content abuse and Penguin greatly reduced black hat manipulative practices (largely link abuse), the time for fake reviews is coming. Google’s business depends on delivering the best content that meets the search intent of each query. Theirs is the worst of all content.

    Stop ’em With Real Evidence of Success

    As entrepreneurs and business professionals, we go to great sacrifice to reach the dream of success. The power of the internet can quickly become a nightmare, if you are not prepared In the case of online reputation management, the best defense is truly a great offense.Blog e-Endorsements: Fake Malicious Reviews

    If you have a product that’s being victimized by fake affiliates, now is the time to fight back. Here, our experience can certainly point a way forward.

    We dealt with the fake reviews attack in three separate ways.

    1. We replaced opinion with fact by creating a head-to-head study of our company vs. the affiliate company targeting us.

    The Study is rigorous, objective and transparent. We present the entire methodology (the how to,) that enables anyone to reproduce the whole study if they have doubts about the results. That transparency is important – we could not fake it if we wanted to.

    This, of course, results in fallout. Some attack us for attacking them (our scientific study becomes the attack despite their instigating fake reviews). Others offer weak arguments like I don’t believe in statistics or stick with It’s just my opinion and I have a right to it.

    All are marked by the desperate nature of weak replies. That’s because there is no good answer against the truth. The fact is that it’s against the law to mislead a customer into reading a fake review that leads to a different product for profit.

    For the complete, detailed results, please see Part 3 of The Study.

    How Does This Relate to Your Business?

    Action point #1: If you have the opportunity to perform a study, or otherwise have raw facts that prove that fake reviews are flat-out bad, use them as widely possible.

    Don’t debate on the fake site’s pages. That simply creates more content for them, which helps their ranking.

    2. We’ve already talked about providing verifiable proof of success on our site. That includes providing domain names.

    Some companies will say they don’t, even in their own forums, because they don’t want competition between their customers.

    That would be a sad answer if it weren’t so laughable. The domain names of SBIers who are logged into our forums are available for all other SBIers to see. Those folks are there to do business. They’re interested in each other’s sites as examples. They have their own sites, based on their own passions. They aren’t looking to start a business about a niche that they don’t know.

    Make sure you provide real proof of success. Include domain names.

    3. We asked SBI! members to consider writing reviews of SBI! on their own sites.

    We thought long and hard before asking, because SBIers create real businesses that are wrapped around real niches (i.e, nothing to do with how to build an online business or MMO).

    For example, if you have a business all about table tennis, your visitors are not interested in building an online business. They’re interested in table tennis.

    Nevertheless, if enough people create real reviews about SBI! and what it has meant to them, some will rank, such as this review of Solo Build It! – by a table tennis site owner!.

    Action point #2: Make sure you have reviews of your own business by those people who genuinely use it.

    These reviews stand out as genuine. The voice and nature of the content help them stand out from scammy, fake reviews.

    Consider, too, creating a simple page that explains your whole fake review situation.

    We created this one and buy ads for a variety of keywords related to searches for our own product until we rank more and more for real reviews.

    4. Finally, contact other companies that have been victimized. Pooling information and even legal strategies grows when you have allies.

    The Future’s Looking Sweet

    Are you still feeling mad as hell?

    Or has arming yourself with information about how to spot and stop fake reviews made life that much sweeter?

    It’s time to take action, always remembering that other great adage

    Don’t get mad – get even.

    Legitimate companies large and small build trust in their brand by providing consumers with quality merchandise and services. It’s honest, hard work that often takes years to pay off.

    Online attraction marketers poach others’ brand equity to promote their own business model. It’s a manipulative scheme that only takes seconds to set up. (Idaho Business: Fake Review Scams)

    We live in a unique window in time where the typical person (with BAM) can, at almost zero expense compared to offline business, start something that generates both profit and business equity.

    Solopreneurs (at least, SBIers) should do better and better in the coming years. Here’s why

    • There has been a leveling off of the total number of sites (Netcraft’s web survey). The number has been approximately 170,000,000 active sites since late-2011.
    • Netcraft

    • Google’s RankBrain is increasing in importance. Better content will be increasingly rewarded due to the AI part of Google’s algorithm. Mediocre content by BigCo employees will be recognized as such.
    • The benefit of unfair weighting from automatic links (i.e., simply due to being BigCo) to that mediocre content will diminish.
    • The solopreneur’s natural social media advantage, including previously unheard-off networking opportunities, stands you in good stead.
    • The increasing ease and emphasis of higher-paying models of monetization will further help the solopreneur to increase the $-per-visitor ratio.

    The window of opportunity for solopreneurs has never been so open. Fake reviews that lead folks from real to bogus shut that window on your fingers just to line their own pockets. And they are so widespread in Internet Marketing/MMO that only the most sophisticated can sniff them out.

    But hopefully, whether you’re a consumer or marketer (you’re likely each at different times), this article will help you sift real from fake.

    Let’s summarize the actions every one of us can take when we come across a review – of any kind – that’s fake.

    Affiliate Marketers

    • Keep it real.
    • Overdeliver for your audience. You may make less now, but you’ll do best in the long run.


    • Insist on proof of success – loads of it – and walk if there is none.
    • Report fake reviews to Google and regulatory authorities.

    Producers of products

    • If you use affiliate marketing, keep it clean. Monitor and discipline.
    • If you’re a victim of fake reviews, fight back with your own marketing. Investigate legal alternatives.
    • If affiliates of a competitive product claim it’s better, prove otherwise if possible. Your study may be shockingly superior because those with winning products don’t need to stoop to sell.

    And finally, if you remember nothing else, remember one of the best pieces of advice about investing money in any product:

    If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is.

    It’s your future. Protect and maximize it.

    Next week, in the final article of this series, we look at best practices for writing your own powerful, ethical affiliate review. Don’t miss it!

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    Author information

    Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)

    Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell’s comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.

    The post Fake News, Fake Reviews: Spot ’em and Stop ’em! appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

  • Why Businesses and Nonprofits Need to Rethink their Benefits Packages

    It’s More than a Hiring Gimmick-It’s a Tool for Fine Tuning Team Culture

    There’s no greater predictor of long-term organizational success than healthy team culture. Yes, customers matter. So do products and services. But an unhealthy team won’t create the best products or serve their customers very well. But how can leaders build healthy team culture?

    The most common way is to start with a list of core values. But that’s not enough. We’ve all spent time in organizations whose core values hung on the wall, and the frame was worth more than the list.

    An Engine with No Wheels

    Several years ago Patrick Lencioni highlighted one company’s values: communication, respect, integrity, excellence. Looks good, right? These are the corporate values of Enron, as stated in the company’s 2000 annual report, he explained.

    Building healthy team culture takes more than compiling a list of values. It’s like an engine. You could have the best engine in the word, but it’s worthless without a transmission to engage the wheels.

    Fortunately, most organizations have a tool they can repurpose to make the connection. I’m talking about their benefits package.

    More Than a Recruitment Tool

    Benefits are typically used in recruitment. They’re designed to woo prospective employees or seal the deal after the larger considerations like pay are discussed. And they’re useful for that.

    But serving as a hiring gimmick falls far short of their potential. When leaders see benefits as the gear box for our company values, they can be used to power team culture in exciting and effective ways.

    Here’s an example from my own organization. At Michael Hyatt & Company our core values include radical margin, unyielding integrity, and continuous growth. I firmly believe we’re at our best at work when we’re at our best as people. As a result, we’ve designed our benefits package to help bring those and other core values to life.

    How Benefits Embody Values

    Here are just five benefits from our package. Every item on this list is intended to empower our full-time, salaried team members (and their families) to embody our values and experience personal development and transformation.

    • No-cap bonus plans. To achieve success, we all have to work together. That’s why we share in our success together, too. And if we beat our goals, there’s no ceiling on bonus potential.
    • Work from wherever. We trust our employees to know what surroundings will help them do their best work. So we welcome employees to work from home or wherever they like. We are building private, premium co-working space but working there is optional except for key meetings.
    • 40-hour workweek. We know our best work happens when we have margin in our lives for what matters most so we aim for a sustainable workweek and encourage employees to unplug after hours.
    • Unlimited PTO. High-performing teams excel when they are healthy and well-rested. That’s why we allow our full-time employees to take as much paid time off as needed to do their best work. (We also encourage a one-month paid sabbatical for eligible employees.)
    • Premium health-care. Healthy employees are happy employees, so we cover 100 percent of our employees’ health care plan and 50 percent for their dependents.

    That doesn’t even cover our paid family leave, investment in professional development, or no-red-tape software budgets.

    Make the Connection

    Too often benefits and values live on two separate lists in two separate departments. HR handles the benefits list. The executive team handles the values. But if you’re looking to build a healthy, thriving team, they need to be integrated.

    It’s fine to have values that hang on the wall. But you also want them walking down the halls. Teams are made of people. And the right people will help you embody your values if you structure your benefits to engage them.

    It’s fine to have values that hang on the wall. But you also want them walking down the halls.


    Tweet Quote

    If you’re looking for more on our values and benefits, visit our careers page.

    Question: Do your company values align with your benefits package? What steps can you take to make sure they’re integrated? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Why Leaders Cannot Afford to Be Easily Offended

    3 Vital Truths to Remember as You Work to Make a Difference in the World

    Here is one big downside to being a leader: You are going to draw fire. You will have critics, trolls, second-guessers, and people who insist on thinking the worst of you.

    You may be falsely accused of wrong motives and much worse. It’s not any fun, but it goes with the territory. And your job in the midst of all this criticism is to keep your head clear and not respond in anger.

    The Temptation to Lash Out

    I have been called many horrible things publicly, including a hypocrite. I won’t lie. It stings, and I am sometimes tempted to respond in kind.

    It would be so easy-and so disastrously wrong.

    As a rule, I refuse to take the bait. But that sort of restraint is never easy. I often have to remind myself of three great truths I have learned, and am still learning, along the way about how to deal with offenses.

    1. Offenses Are Inevitable

    Life affords us opportunities to be offended every day. As you work to make a difference in your organization, people inside and out will find reasons to disagree-and worse. You will be the cause of offense from time to time whether you mean to or not.

    That people-especially in the age of social media-are going to take offense doesn’t mean you or your team should be insensitive or shrug it off when it happens.

    But it’s important to understand that people are going to take umbrage, in spite of your best efforts. It helps to prepare you to respond the right way.

    2. Offenses Can Be Turned Around and Used for Good

    If you are prepared when people both take and give offense, it can help to set your organization up for success.

    Martin Luther King Jr. is a personal hero. One of the reasons the civil rights movement was so successful under his leadership were the offenses endured by those marching and protesting for equal dignity under the law.

    It shocked and changed the mind of the nation. How?

    3. Being Offended Is a Choice

    As Dr. King promised in his I Have a Dream speech, marchers and boycotters would meet police brutality not with anger and violence but with soul force. And that’s what they did.

    Did people outside the movement take offense at this? Absolutely. Did they respond with anger and even violence? Some did.

    But others saw Dr. King suffering in jail for his beliefs, reasoning with his jailers, forcefully but respectfully insisting that the United States must recognize the equal dignity of all its people.

    King’s choice showed them they had a choice too. It created the option to choose a different path.

    Who Takes the High Road?

    Granted, whatever struggle you face trying to change things in your organization, it doesn’t have nearly the weight as the civil rights movement.

    Being offended is a choice. You get to decide how you react to the wrongdoing of others.


    Tweet Quote

    I bring it up because Dr. King gives leaders a very good model of how best to prepare for, manage, and overcome offenses.

    Like the greatest leaders I have known, he was not easily offended. He overlooked most of the petty slights and took the high road that leads to genuine change. Shouldn’t more of us be like that?

    Question: What can you do to become less likely to be offended? You can leave a comment by clicking here.