What RABS Learned, Lately...

We learn volumes in business. Here are ten of Run A Better Set's insights, lately.
1. Write notes on what you learned each day. It's the only way to track it all. It makes the learning manifest. When you write notes, you're storing the learning in your mental backend and your mental front end can access it another time.
2. Take the train to the airport instead of a cab. Especially early on in a business' life, you're probably spending more than you're earning. It's going to get worse before it gets better so suck it up and ride public transit, even late night. Saving money is just as good as earning money. 
3. Not taking things personally isn't good advice. It may be easier to not take things personally when you're rich. But when you're not and when you love something that someone else doesn't, it's personal. So the lesson - don't listen to someone who tells you not to take things personally. Take things very personally. Everything …

Software & IP

If you don't understand the differences between copyright, trademark, and patent, learn them. There are thousands of resources available to grow your understanding. The challenge is harnessing your understanding to protect your invention, especially if it's software.

Companies pay a lot to secure their trademarks. Patenting can be in the tens of thousands. Copyrighting is by far the least expensive. They each bring protection that's helpful yet limited in scope. For effective use, make legal protection an aspect of your businesses' strategy, not the crux of the strategy.

Copyrights help but are limited to fixed mediums, and software often changes in both code and appearance. They're good if you don't want someone stealing your exact code, line for line. If copyrighting is your preferred method you're best to constantly apply and re-apply for the ©.

Trademarks are most valuable for branding protection. If your software's brand is intrinsic to its commerc…

Advice on Cold Calls

If you're comfortable with a 10% success rate you have the chance to be a good cold caller. We're going to share tips from our experience making thousands of cold calls.

The 10% conversion rate is due to two factors out of your control: cheap labor in call centers selling crap and solicitations from universities or other needy institutions. Both instances infuriate potential customers and give cold-calling its bad reputation. They make your life harder by creating the perception in potential customers that you're a nuisance. Thanks to them, you're at an inherent disadvantage. You must think of yourself as different from them, as the protagonist to their antagonist. It will make you more confident and people will be able to hear it in your voice. The third factor in low conversion is you.

You must go into each call with an objective. When somebody asks what you want, tell them. Don't ignore it to keep selling. If they say no, persuade them but be gracious and thankf…

Sales and Screenplay

We're not writing to teach how to sell a screenplay. Check @goodinaroom if you want to learn about that. We're writing to discuss the similarities between sales and screenplay.

It doesn't matter if you read Zig Ziglar, Dixon & Adamson, or Blake Snyder, and Syd Field. You're going to find one idea uniting good sales and good screenplays: story. In sales, we use the story to sell a product. A screenplay is a story, and likely, it's sold by telling a story.

Wants & Needs are the two most basic units of story. A customer's Wants & Needs are the two most basic units of sales. The two art forms - sales and story - rely on the exact same elements. What's intriguing is the way they can help either the seller or writer improve their skill.

In a sale, we use a story to engage with a customer's Wants & Needs. We tell stories about our challenges on sets, or our time selling Sake, or our mother's cosmetics. In a sale, a story functions to descri…

A Challenge About Rocky

Rocky is to Philly as: Bronx Tale is to the Bronx? Chinatown is to LA? JFK to New Orleans? LadyBird is to Sacramento? Breaking Bad to Albuquerque? The Sopranos to Ramopo? Star Wars to a Galaxy Far, Far Away? Apocalypse Now to Nam?
It's easy to list works with memorable settings. But our challenge is finding a work with a perfectly impactful setting. We mean a setting that somehow captures the characters' essense, the works' theme, the antagonists' power, and creates a spiritual connection with story so essential we're not overstating by saying it gives the story soul. And, we have to find one that isn't Rocky. We call it setting-story relationship. 
In Run A Better Set's mind, Rocky is the paradigm of setting-story relationship. If you take Rocky out of Philly, you don't have a timeless movie. 
Rocky is a story of an underdog. Philly is known as an underdog town. The American Revolution was our first American underdog story and it was produced in Philadelphia. Th…

Don't Co-Found With a CTO

Socrates once walked around to the craftspeople, poets, and politicians in Athens and asked them about their expertise. Because his subjects were all skilled in their particular area, they assumed they knew everything.

Let's assume you're a founder without a technology background. You think "I have a great idea for an app". You talk to your circles about it and they confirm. You do some preliminary research and it confirms your first hypotheses about the problem, need, and market opportunity. You're sure the only thing between you and the lucrative benefits you imagine is the ability to create the technology. You set out to find a tech person to build your idea.

Developers are not rare. Over the next half-century, computer science jobs could become as popular as plumbing jobs. Supply is high; that's good news for a founder who wants a job done fast and cheap. You probably don't realize supply is high. It's okay - technology is new to you.

Be aware - i…

Film Credit Confusion

Coupons remind us of Film Tax Credits. We're going to use the analogy between coupons and tax credits to show how understanding "Film Credit Confusion" can help a producer run a better set.

Imagine you have a 20% coupon to your grocery store. With a coupon you think - great, I'll save money. You leave with your purchase thinking you've made a good deal. And the store sold items. Good for the store, great for you cause you saved.

A coupon is designed to do two things. The first is to bring you into the store. The next is to have a confusing psychological effect on you; its there to make you think you've saved while distracting you as you spend more money than you expected to spend. In any retail setting, once customers enter a the store, they buy items they didn't anticipate buying (largely due to packaging and marketing displays) and more often than not, they spend more on the unanticipated items than on the items they plan to buy.

Think about yourself - …