Follow this Formula to Increase the Value of Everything You Do – IMP#23

January 31, 2014 , 26 Comments

After years of experience with building online businesses and many partnerships with other entrepreneurs, I’ve started seeing patterns emerge. One of these patterns I rely on so often, that I’ve turned it into a formula:

S + S + WE = V

In today’s podcast episode, we take a look at what this formula is about and how you can make use of it to massively increase the value you provide in your business.

Podcast Video

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Podcast Audio

Click here to download this episode.


As always, your thoughts, questions and comments are welcome!

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About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Amen brother. Not nearly enough people telling the truth about what it takes to get where you really want to be. I love hearing this stuff. Powerful message. Thanks Shane.


  • Diminishing marginal returns is the concept you were fishing for w/ that inverse exponential talk, Shane.

    Economists use this terminology all the time, and it’s very true in athletics as well. Basically, with every endeavor each step toward excellence is tougher than the one preceding it.

    Oh, just realized that you might have been referring to an asymptote. You’ve seen this before — it’s when the curve in a graph, say, moves quickly down to the x axis then parallels it, never reaching zero.

    Anyway, thanks for the formula… ciao for now.



    • Thanks, Joe. Yes, the diminishing marginal returns is the one!

      I actually meant to add this graphic to the video:
      Diminishing Marginal Returns During Skill Acquisition

      But forgot about it.

      (edit: now I just need to figure out how to make this show up at full size…)


  • Josh Kaufman thinks it only takes 20 hours to develop and “master” a new skill:

    He has a fairly precise definition of “master” and puts some limitations on the process, per his TEDx talk in the YouTube video referenced above.

    I have several skills. Programming, writing, (weak) GUI design, basic understanding of how the world works (Electronics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Math), and music (I’m a professional violinist).

    My main weakness is focus. I am interested in nearly everything, so it’s hard to narrow down to just one thing.

    However, I did manage to focus well enough to put out a newsletter in the music niche every week for over a year — even weeks when I was traveling. It was well-received (by all 85 subscribers), but lost money. I’m about to get it another shot, having identified 3 different things I did wrong (I’m sure there are others that I have not yet identified).

    1) I should have had a landing/squeeze page
    2) I should not have avoided paying for some traffic
    3) I should not have given away physical products as subscriber incentives


    • I’ve started reading Josh’s book (on your recommendation, I think). In my opinion, 20 hours is not enough to get to a level where you can offer that skill as a service. Maybe I’m a slow learner, but for me, the 60 hours are definitely more realistic.

      Concerning your newsletter experiment: I’d be hard pressed to find a way to squeeze a significant amount of income out of a list of 85 subscribers. I think the focus should definitely be on the list-building part until you have at least a few hundred subscribers.


      • Howard Lee Harkness says:

        I think have you beat at “slow learning” — having just admitted to running a newsletter for over a year to fewer than 100 subscribers.

        However, I do eventually learn.

  • Hey Shane,

    I couldn’t agree more and nice job! I felt a little jealous I don’t have the website design skills, product creation skills or the marketing skills for conversions.I’m working within my own skill set within a limited budget of time.

    (S # one) for me is having the skill of understanding a complete location top to bottom, side to side and in inside and out. Having an understanding of a complete location area from having been to specific places in time before for the experience of having been there. I think this is a skill set

    (S # two) for me is understanding a service inside and out by having performed the service many times for thirty years over and over makes me an expert in the field sort of by default. I understand most of the knowledge for the service I perform and have the experience of doing the service over and over again.

    (s # three), Managing others to perform the service in the location I know so well becomes easier because I know what to expect from having been there and done that even though my management experience is my lessor skill.

    Getting to the top would have been possible without having done the work, staying and thriving on top would not have been possible for me, without having done the work because my management skill was my lessor skill. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to improve my management skill because of my work ethic I will not longer have to depend on location and service experience as much.

    For me it’s S+S+S+WE=V

    I hope this all makes sense.


    • Hello Frederick,

      Thanks for your comment!

      That actually sounds like a good set of skills, for your field of work.

      As for the jealousy about the skills you don’t have: I felt exactly the same, when I looked at someone else’s sales-funnel, about four or five years ago. So I decided I wanted those skills as well and have been working on them ever since. I’d say it was one of my better decisions, so far. :)


  • Shane:

    Fantastic insight. Your formula makes perfect sense. I love the part about work ethic!

    I am an architect by trade and an artist by heart. I am working on branding myself online with my art and as an creative coach. I am fairly new to the online marketing world.

    My strong skills are as an artist and putting out content on my site. I try to post a new sketch every day. I am arming myself with different types of blog and video posts.

    My weak areas are in the technical, back end website and online marketing world (i.e. autoresponders, opt-ins, etc). I am working on building my skills in these areas for a couple of reasons. 1. No budget to hire somebody to do the work. 2. To develop an understanding and appreciation of the ‘behind the scenes'” web design and marketing world.

    I am finding that I am enjoying learning about the technical and marketing stuff. It’s very cool.

    My goals are to share my creativity with others by delivering content that has value.
    I would love to be able to generate recurring revenue through the sales of art pieces and videos.

    Thank you for the amazing content you deliver. I am learning a lot from you and enjoying your Thrive content builder. I look forward to your Thrive Themes.

    Keep up the awesome work.


    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks for your comment!

      From a business perspective, this is the statement that I’m a bit worried about, from what you described:

      My goals are to share my creativity with others by delivering content that has value.
      I would love to be able to generate recurring revenue through the sales of art pieces and videos.

      That sounds quite vague. Do you have a good idea about how this will actually work, in practice? Some guiding questions for this would be:

      Who exactly are the people you are trying to reach?

      What kind of problem are you solving for them or what kind of value are you providing (value as in something they are already known to be paying money for)?

      How are you offering them something better or different than your competitors?


      • Excellent questions, Shane.

        It is hard to sell a drawing/art. Art is a luxury, not a necessity. It’s an emotional thing. I need to seriously focus on a specific avatar, problem, and develop a unique solutions and value content so that I can convert visitors to my site into customers.

        As a start, maybe I can engage my current fans in a survey and ask them for input on specific needs and problems that they would like to see solutions for.

        Thank you for your valuable business insight.

  • I completely agree with this formula.

    Even if someone doesn’t have a strong understanding of one skill but they start working on that to better serve the need of the skill they already have, it’s going to take them farther for sure.

    And yes, a strong work ethic is a must and is important regardless of what skills someone does or doesn’t have already. Any skill can be learned but working through something for great results no matter the situation – good or bad – is vital to massive success.

    Great formula to go by for great value for sure. Thanks for sharing this and also, I like the video presentation rather than just a podcast to only listen to. It’s nice to see someone just talking to you face to face rather than only being able to listen, so very good there, in my opinion.


    • Thanks, Eric!

      Glad you enjoyed the video version of the podcast. :)


  • Shane – I’ve been working late tonight catching up (aka work ethic), and clicked your video onto my iPad so that I could get you out of my inbox, lol.

    As an aside, I’ve come to trust that your communiques are not going to waste my time, and I always make a valiant effort to fit you in… as opposed to just filing the Melaugh-gh-gh emails into that proverbial todo folder… which as we all know at some point, gets severely purged since there is never enough time to do everything that we had hoped we could. That was a compliment by the way… just in case I did not word my long run-on sentence exactly as my brain was thinking it.

    Anywho… the real reason why I have taken the time to comment is because I wanted to say that I REALLY like your definition of having a privileged life. Your entire message is awesome, but that part in particular resonated with me the most.



    • Hi Doug,

      Thank you for your comment! I’m very proud of having made it through your “filter”. And I know too well what you mean: there are just far too many things to do and too few hours in the day.


  • Johnn Four says:

    I think the Power Combo is a great concept.

    I’m going to mull this over. Knowing me, I’ll want to do a three skill power set. :)

    One approach might be to add a high-level or more strategic skill with a tactical/production skill.

    With a tactical/tactical power combo, you can become awesome at being a subject matter expert and “working in your business.”

    With a strategic/tactical power combo, you can make bigger changes faster, thereby getting bigger results and become awesome at both “working in your business” and “working on your business.”

    Just a hypothesis.

    What do you think of that idea?

    For example, for the strategic skill:

    * Systems Thinking (ability to see more than just the current step or tactic, Theory of Constraints, root causes, connections/relationships, E-Myth, managing structure to generate more reliable results, etc.)

    * Salesmanship (customer-oriented thinking, problem/solution mindset, business acumen, service mindset)

    * Strategic Marketing (you mention product strategy in your video, which I’d consider to fall under this skill)

    * Leadership (influence, communication, value/belief-based approaches, self-management)

    And for tactical skills:

    * CRO
    * Design
    * Writing
    * Programming
    * Art


    • That’s a very interesting way of looking at it, yes.

      I was thinking of it in terms of combining a “soft skill” with a “hard skill”. Marketing related skills are often soft skills, because it requires an understanding of how people think, the ability to put yourself in their shoes and it often also requires creativity. Add a “hard” skill like programming to that and it can make a powerful combination.

      But I think you’ve got a better concept with your strategic/tactical split.


  • Hi Shane,

    Great video. I have a question about work ethic. How do you screen for this when hiring people? You mentioned you’d had issues previously with support staff. Any useful insights?



    • Hi Mark,

      I think the most important thing is that we hire only on trial basis. I.e. everyone starts out on some small scale trial project and they are only hired for longer term if the impress us during the trial period.

      With support in particular, we have a few hypothetical tickets that we send to applicants, that they need to answer for us. The questions are designed to figure out how they handle with difficult situations and see if they’re more the type to take a short cut or the type to go above and beyond, in answering a customer question.


  • Like Doug, I value your podcast videos enough to watch them regularly. You are one of very few on my very short list of online information providers who consistently provide usable value.
    I think it’s because you speak with honesty, winnow a topic down to useful essentials, and provide an unconventional perspective.
    Your podcasts inspire me to keep on grinding. I don’t always like the grind, but I always like having you as an example to keep me at it.


  • Good talk. Thanks for the overview.
    My main skill set is brainstorming. I’m an idea guy. I also follow through.
    My main challenge is to develop online skills because my background is in hands-on construction.
    I have a good grasp of WordPress. I just bought your Thrive Theme Builder as well as your Thrive Content Builder.
    I need to learn video skills because the world is going visual.
    Also need to organize my sales funnel and get a better grasp on copywriting. In my field of residential construction most people are highly sensitive to any kind of marketing hype and scam. Builders get bombarded with calls and emails promoting website building services, SEO, Google Places, etc etc.
    You have to speak the language of your audience so they can hear you.


    • Very good point about speaking the same language as your audience. This is a big part of good copywriting. Also, keep in mind that when marketing and advertising are done right, nobody feels like marketing or advertising are taking place… if people in your target audience are tired of the marketing and hype, I think there’s probably an opportunity for you to come in under the radar, so to speak.


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