I’ve been a customer and follower of Perry Marshall for over ten years. Perry is a multiple time (real) bestselling author with expertise in many domains including business, engineering and spirituality.
He’s one of the most widely respected and sought-after consultants in the world.
About a year ago Perry made known his interest in having bigger conversations that people don’t or can’t have and using marketing to help change the world.
This aligned with my intention for Exploring Forward Thinking Workplaces 2.0, so I reached out to Perry for a conversation.
Perry does some remarkable things in the world. Over the past few years he’s been revealing more and more about how 80/20 and his own deepening understanding of it are responsible.
Below are the key insights I found most interesting in my interview with him. Read the full interview at How to Get 80/20 to Work for You.
I encourage you to look at how he is enacting 80/20 in almost all of his responses. Notice how his questions harness the fractal power of 80/20, which is enormously powerful.
I learn something new that I bring to my life and work every time I encounter his work.
I’d love to hear what you find most intriguing?
To your great work & success!
1. BE VERY SELECTIVE ABOUT WHO YOU HIRE
You do that by being very selective about who you hire. You do that by being willing to fire people that don’t match. I think that people have this idea that it’s their job to give everybody else a job and that is not true. That’s Marxism. It doesn’t work. It’s catastrophic. You should hire slow and fire fast.
2. DO AN AUDITION, NOT AN INTERVIEW
When you hire people, it should not be an interview. It should be an audition. People can say anything they want. A lot of times it’s not true. Sometimes because they’re lying. More often it’s not true because they don’t understand themselves, or they don’t know what they’re capable of. Sometimes they’re nervous, or they’re just trying to find a job, or they’re just trying to say what the interviewer thinks they want to hear.
3. HELP PEOPLE LEARN HOW THEY BEST ENLIST OTHER PEOPLE’S COOPERATION
But there wasn’t a tool that said this is how people enlist other people’s cooperation. Some people do it with numbers, facts, proof, and spreadsheets. Some people do it by telling stories. Some people do it with graphics. Some people do it by inventing something in the moment. Some people do it by proving how incredibly reliable and trustworthy something is. So, I created something called the Marketing DNA test. It actually comes as part of the 80/20 Sales and Marketing book, and we also sell it separately. Now I’m talking this test is particularly helpful in customer-facing employees. If they’re an engineer working in the back office, then this particular tool doesn’t really apply. Well, it doesn’t appear to apply, let’s put it that way.
4. DEEP DOWN MOST PEOPLE WANT TO LIVE THE HERO’S JOURNEY
There’s just this kind of pervasive attitude in our society that life is sort of meaningless. Life only has the meaning that you assign to it and that we’re just billiard balls banging around in the universe. Allegedly, supposedly, that’s the scientific view. Well, I would submit to you in practice that nobody actually believes that. Nobody acts like they believe that. Perfectly logical rational people who say they believe that will line up around the block with movie tickets to go watch Star Wars, which is an epic story. The reason Star Wars is so popular for so many years is it’s a very well told Hero’s Journey epic story. What people long for and are also terrified of is living the Hero’s Journey.
5. WHAT DO WE NEED TO SUBTRACT?
One of the most valuable questions you could ever ask is: what do we need to subtract? It’s really easy to add and sometimes easy to multiple. The really hard stuff in business is division and subtraction. This is part of 80/20.
6. HOW ARE WE DOING?
I think employees need to know what’s the scorecard. How are we doing? Employees really respond when they know. We have a meeting every week where the key employees of the company review all of the product lines we’re selling, all of the sales numbers, all of our sales projections — everything.
7. WHAT IS THE HIGHEST & BEST GOOD THAT YOU CAN AIM FOR?
What is the absolute best thing that you could and should pursue?
- What’s the highest and best product that we could put out?
- What’s the highest and best employee that we could recruit?
- What’s the highest and best customer that we could bring on board?
8. FIGURE OUT THE TOP 1% OR 5% ACTIVITY THAT YOU COULD POSSIBLY BE DOING
I think most of us get caught up in what I call barnacles, which is work that doesn’t really achieve much. It just happens to be comfortable and easy to react to. I can sit there and hit refresh on my email inbox 57 times a day. I could go check social media. I could go answer this email from this person, but am I really doing the highest and best thing that I could be doing at this moment? I like to say the reason that you’re checking your email and social media right now is you don’t know what to do. You haven’t figured out what the highest top 1% or 5% activity is that you could possibly be doing.
9. 80/20 IS NOT JUST A BUSINESS RULE OF THUMB
It’s a fundamental law of cause and effect like gravity and is absolutely everywhere. I want people to look out the window — any window, anywhere. I want to be able to say, “Tell me ten 80/20 relationships you see outside that window?” and they would be able to just rattle them off. When you can see that, you all of a sudden have this new dimension of problem-solving ability that you didn’t have before. You have an ability to ask questions that most people would never think to ask.
10. IF YOU HAD PREDICTIVE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, YOU’D NEVER FAIL — THINKING BACKWARDS
It goes to Stephen Covey’s begin with the end in mind. It speaks to the fact that human beings are intrinsically purposeful creatures. I’m an engineer. In engineering one of the major, major skills that you acquire is I want to know in advance how well the bridge is going to work before I build the bridge and before I drive cars on it. If you had a predictive theory of everything, you would never fail. So that’s thinking backwards.
11. LOOK AT THINGS FROM DIFFERENT ANGLES
I remember when I was a brand-new marketer, it really made my brain hurt to imagine I’m not the sales guy, I’m the customer, and I’m not writing this thing. I’m reading it on somebody else’s computer screen. What do I think about that? How do I feel about that? What is my bleeding neck? What are my issues? What problems do I want to solve? Why am I kicking my cat when I go home? It hurt my brain. It was like twisting myself around 180 degrees, and I’m looking at a different computer screen the opposite direction.
12. DO THE THING THAT POLARIZES EVERYONE
Really quickly, the rack the shotgun story is the signature story of the whole book. John Paul Mendocha is a good friend of mine, and he hitched hike from Denver to Las Vegas when he was 17. He dropped out of high school and became a professional gambler in Las Vegas. He’s living by his wits and after a few weeks, he’s like this is harder than I thought it was going to be! He meets this guy in a bookstore who runs a gambling ring, and his name is Rob. John asks, “Rob, do you think you could help me do a better job playing poker?” Rob says,“For a percentage of your winnings I can help you play better poker,” and so they shook hands on it.
When they were down shaking on it Rob says, “Jump in the Jeep, John. We’re going for a ride.” They’re in the jeep and they’re going down the highway. John says, “Alright Rob, how do I win more poker games?” And Rob goes, “You have to play people who are going to lose, and those people are called marks.” And John says, “Where do I find marks?” He says, “Here I’ll show you.”
He pulls into the parking lot of a strip club, and he takes John into the club. There are women dancing. There’s booze, bikers and loud music and everything. A lot of distractions. Rob always carried a sawed-off shotgun with him everywhere he went. They sat down at a table and Rob pulls a sawed-off shotgun out of his jacket. He opens it up under the table and slams it shut. It goes “click-click” with that racking noise, which is called racking the shotgun. There are a few people in that loud noisy club that turn around, “Like, hey! Who did that? Where did that sound come from?”
13. ALL GREAT LEADERS RACK THE SHOTGUN
All great leaders rack the shotgun — courageously. Even bad leaders do it, but leaders do it. Trump racks the shotgun all the time. Hillary racked the shotgun all the time. Gandhi. Jesus. All of them. People are afraid to do it because it creates who are your friends, and who are your enemies. It wears you out a little bit. It gets tiresome. I know. I get it. It’s what you have to do. Everything you do in marketing is racking the shotgun. Everything you do in leadership is racking the shotgun, so people are afraid to do it. If you’re hiring process is an audition instead of an interview, then that’s a rack the shotgun exercise. Ok, who can put those screw assemblies together in 15 seconds or less? And who can’t? Who can do 600 keystrokes per minute on the adding machine and who can’t? That’s the essence of it. It takes courage. It takes balls, and you just have to do it.