Signals in the Noise – Issue 4

For two and a half years, every two weeks I sifted through over 140 blog posts and podcasts that talk about how to build successful online businesses. I found the best content, summarized it, added a bit of my commentary, and delivered it to the inboxes of entrepreneurs around the world…for free. I’m no longer writing Signals in the Noise issues (because my business partners and I are focusing on other parts of Clarity Lab), but please enjoy these archived issues. There’s a ton of useful information in them!

Each week I sift through over 50 blog posts and podcasts that talk about how to build successful online businesses. I find the best content, summarize it, add a bit of my commentary, and deliver it to the inboxes of entrepreneurs around the world…for free. Buh-bye information overwhelm. Hello calm, well-informed business owner. Subscribe below to get weekly, curated goodness.

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1. How to NOT destroy a small city when customers put on their nasty pants and write you an email.

Warning: Colorful language ahead. If that kind of thing bothers you, move along to the next item. Nothing to see here.

Angry guy on the internet, via email: Hey Fuck Stick. Quit spamming me.

Me: Hi there. I apologize if you feel like I was spamming you. I’m not sure what caused your reaction, but I’m sorry to hear you felt bothered by me.

The only way you would have gotten the email below is if you signed up to see my free video training that’s up right now, and it’s just a follow up email to give you access to it.

I’ve removed you from my list though.

Best wishes,

Angry guy: I didn’t sign up for any of your crap, so that’s not “the only way I would have gotten your email” and even if I did, why are you sending me three emails about your gay tech stuff.

Me: I see. Well, if you didn’t sign up then I don’t have any idea how you got on my list. This would be the first time this has ever happened. Sorry for the trouble.

You’re not in my system anymore, so you won’t be getting any more emails from me about my program.



That was an actual email exchange between me and a rather unhappy man during a product launch I did a few years ago. Wheeeee…People. Sigh. If you’d like to get emails like that, all you have to do is start an online business. Seriously.

If you’ve done any amount of personal growth or meditation practice, angry people on the web will give you a lot of grist for the mill. Wait…that’s the wrong metaphor. They’ll make you want to buy a flamethrower because, you know. Anger and fire.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You will get some nasty emails if you build an online business. But here’s the important thing number one: don’t take it personally. Anonymity on the internet mixed with human nature makes for some really whacked emails sometimes.

And here’s important thing number two: if you communicate with angry customers in the right way they can often become some of your biggest fans. You just have to do a little email aikido and let the thrust of their angry attack go to the side of you, then spiral down to the ground.


2. Can’t smile without you.

Finally. There’s some science to back up what I’ve felt for years: Using emoticons in emails and social media posts is a good thing :^)! “Scientists have discovered that when we look at a smiley face online, the same very specific parts of the brain are activated as when we look at a real human face.” Boom. Take that, emoticon haters.

Here are 7 scientifically fortified reasons to use emoticons. Maybe I should have used a few smilies in my replies to angry guy from the internet.


3. How to sell without selling your soul.

Here’s a bit of cognitive dissonance for you: most of us hate being sold to, and we dislike selling something even more. Build an online business though, and guess what you’ll need to do at almost every turn? Sell something. Ohhhhh…the tension, the inner conflict.

When you boil it down, selling is nothing more than getting someone else to do something you’d like them to do. It could be “Go check out this awesome blog post on my website,” or, “Sign up for my free ebook,” or “Buy my 6 week online training program,” or even trying to get your 6 ½-year-old son to stop smearing jelly on your nice, new, white Pottery Barn couch. (What…? That’s just an, um…random example. Ahem.)

So…deep breath. You’re going to need to sell ideas to people. Free ones and ones that cost money. But how can you do it without feeling like you’re being a pushy schmuck? Authenticity. Humility. Attunement to those you’re selling to. Honestly being in service to your employees and customers. Sounds MUCH better than the painfully disrespectful “always be closing” sales advice of old. (Does anyone else want to vomit when they hear crap like that?)

Here’s Dan Pink, the author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, interviewed by Demien Farnsworth on the how to succeed in the new era of selling. If I had a name as cool as “Demien Farnsworth,” I could succeed at selling in any era.


4. Google+ is breaking up with itself.

I don’t want to say “I told you so” or anything, but…I had a feeling something like this was coming. Google+, which is Google’s attempt at a Facebook competitor, is splitting up into three different products: Photos, Hangouts, and Streams.

I won’t be shedding any tears over this. I could never get Google+ to fit me or my businesses. It always felt like that one shirt that shrunk a bit in the wash…and it never fit quite right after that.

If you’ve been building up your Google+ presence for your business though, this is definitely something to be aware of.


5. Sentences to grow a cash cow.

“You could run yourself ragged for $5 an article. You could take shit writing jobs in the name of putting food on the table. You could take on clients you hate, feel a constant sense of dread, and pray that your big break comes along…soon. Or, you can learn how to build an in-demand writing business…the smart way.” That’s the inimitable Ash Ambirge getting to the heart of how to build a lucrative writing business.

Ash is launching a new course right now. It’s called Sentences and Money, and if nothing else, you should go check out her sales page for the program. You’ll see some of the best copywriting on the web right here. I won’t hide it. No, not this. I LOVE Ash Ambirge. I’ve taken some of her writing programs before, and my mind was blown. Ash is THE BOMB. A genius writer and marketer, and an over-the-top generous person.

I am a lover of words. I study them. Kneel before them. And kiss the screen when I see them used brilliantly. They can make or break your business, or, you can make them your business. And if you want to make a living writing words? Check out Sentences and Money. 


6. One is greater than zero.

Do you ever find yourself daydreaming of getting a TON of traffic and sales after you make an appearance on Ellen, or CNN, or The Today Show, or Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday? Oh, come on. You have too. I think we’ve all done that.

But how do you get there? You’ve got to do the work, day in and day out, over and over and over, says Gary Vaynerchuk. You have to shift your mindset away from aiming only for interviews and guest posts that will give you massive exposure and towards doing things that may only give you a little exposure.

One is greater than zero for Gary. Don’t say no to an interview request for someone who only gets 200 views on their youtube videos. Because you know what? You never know when one of those 200 people watching that one video interview will be a producer from CNN or Ellen.


7. Don’t follow your bliss. Find your passion.

Most of us have felt at some point that if we could just find our passion and monetize it, we’d be successful. We’d be able to live the kind of life we want to live. We’d get to do what we love and get paid well for it. But the guys over at Grumo say that that’s backward.

Turns out that it may be better to focus on finding success in a niche first, and then you’ll see your passion come alive.


8. Start lean. Finish strong.

“It’s a methodology called the “lean start-up,” and it favors experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional “big design up front” development.” That’s Steve Blank, from the Harvard Business Review, heading into a great overview of the lean startup methodology , which was created by Eric Ries.

The Lean method isn’t just for tech startups either. It’s great for any kind of business, including online businesses that sell information products or services like coaching. I could have saved myself a lot of pain had I known about it before launching some of the businesses I’ve launched.


9. A better cup of coffee, the app way.

I am now one year into being thoroughly addicted to espresso wrapped in a blanket of warm almond milk and single origin chocolate. Most of my entrepreneur friends run businesses powered by caffeine as well.

If you’ve ever used the great little portable espresso maker called the AeroPress, there’s a new app called Kohi that will help you brew the perfect shot of espresso with it. I’m still waiting for the app that will inject controlled doses of caffeine directly into my brain.


10. The art of writing emails.

Most of the focus on solving The Global Email Flood is on how to process the emails we get in faster, more efficient ways. Can you imagine a world without email though? Left with only paper, pen (or a typewriter), and snail mail, emails become letters. The pace of your writing slows and you focus on your words as though you’re creating art.
If you treat your communications with prospects and customers like art, you’ll make beautiful impressions on people. Do that and people will talk, which means free marketing for you, which is awesome.

If you treat your communications with prospects and customers like art, you’ll make beautiful impressions on people. Do that and people will talk, which means free marketing for you, which is awesome.

You don’t need to go back into a retro world of slow communication to treat your emails like artfully crafted letters though. Here are 5 apps you can run your email copy through to help you write better. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.”


Alrightee. I hope you have an awesome week!

If you liked this week’s issue of Signals In the Noise, I’d love it if you could help a business geek out and share it with your friends. Here are some quick links for you to make sharing supah easeh:

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Thanks heaps!

Until next week, keep pouring the passion into your work!

~Forest Linden
Managing Editor

p.s. You can find the archive of past issues here.

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