In The Trenches 023: MVP Validation with Cheryl Woodhouse

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How to Validate a Minimum Viable Product with Cheryl Woodhouse

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I write about product development (starting, finishing, and shipping products and services) a lot.

Part of the process for successfully shipping a product or service to market is making sure it will work BEFORE you spend months or years building it.

This is what we mean when we say: minimal viable product.

The minimal viable product or MVP is the most basic, version 1.0 product you can build that can then be sold to early adopters to see if your idea is good or bad.

Yes, it’s that simple.

No, it’s not easy.

In today’s interview, I sit down with marketer and author of Start Something: A Step by Step Guide to A Successful Business, Cheryl Woodhouse to talk product development, how to validate your ideas cheaply and quickly, and how she’s helped dozens of clients create something their audience loves (without breaking the bank).

Listen, take notes, then leave a review on iTunes letting Cheryl and I know how much you loved this episode :)

What Cheryl Woodhouse and I talk about:

  • How to identify a solution that will succeed in the marketplace
  • How to create your minimal viable product (MVP) and launch it to the world
  • The importance of the number 100 in the product validation phase
  • How to find or create distribution channels for your product or service (i.e. how to find people to sell your product to!)
  • All about Cheryl’s personal story, starting as a copywriter then transitioning to marketing and strategy
  • And much more…

Wise Words from Cheryl Woodhouse:

“Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from putting something out there.” [share]

Where You can Find Cheryl Woodhouse Online:




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In The Trenches 020: How to Develop Courage In Writing with Dave Ursillo

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Courage and Writing

dave ursillo

A lot of people have books in them…

But how many take the time to actually write them?

Enter: Dave Ursillo - a multi-published author and entrepreneur who helps creative self-starters live their leadership through artistry.

Dave’s written 8 books, is the leader of the Literati Writers – a small, private community of writers, and has done numerous speaking engagements around the country on the topics of communication and leadership.

In today’s broadcast, Dave and I sat down to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart:

  • COURAGE in writing

Dave shares his journey from working in politics to writing books and coaching writers full time.  While his story is interesting in and of itself, Dave also walks us through actionable steps to developing courage in writing and entrepreneurship.

Weather you are interested in writing, or you want actionable steps to develop courage and self-belief in your own artistry and business, today’s broadcast is for you.

Oh, and if you enjoyed today’s broadcast, leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

What Dave Ursillo and I talk about:

  • How Dave got his start in writing on September 11 2001
  • How this incredible event changed the scope of his writing (and his life)
  • The power of writing to create constructive thought and dialogue.
  • Dave’s start in the political world and how the nature of politics compelled him to start writing
  • Dave’s journey from the job he hated,to hitting 4 months of depression and working his way out using his creativity and passion
  • How Dave created the exclusive writers group: Literatti Writers
  • How to cultivate courage in your writing and life
  • Why we need to be fearless with our writing (and all our actions)
  • Why we need to surround ourselves with similar values (hint: it has to do with courage)

3 Tenets of Cultivating Courage in Writing (and Life):

  1. Daily Practice
  2. Surround Yourself With People who Have the Same Values
  3. Have Mentors and Role Models you Follow and Aspire to be Like

*note: we go in depth on each of these in the interview, so definitely check out the interview!

Awesome Quote from Dave Ursillo:

     dave ursillo thumbnail

“Courage in writing is everything.” [Click to Tweet]

“The journey in life is the greatest reward.”  [Click to Tweet]

Where You can Find Dave Ursillo Online:


Twitter: @daveursillo

Additional Resources and Links:

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If you enjoyed today’s podcast, leave a review on iTunes here.

And let us know what you think in the comments below!

In the Trenches 012 : Conquering Mountains with Dan Adams

[infopane color="1" icon="0101.png"]In today’s interview, I talk with Dan about The Higher Purpose Project. It’s an intensive training course designed to help you live a life of courage aligned with your highest values.

It pretty much goes without saying that I support the project and encourage anyone interested to reach out to Dan and apply to be a part of it.

The application process ends mid August so hurry so you don’t miss your chance at grabbing one of the limited slots (they go fast).

Apply through this link.[/infopane]

The Higher Purpose Project

Starting From Scratch

In 2012, Dan Adams did something impossible.

With no experience, no resources and no connections, Dan created an award winning (2012 ESPY Award winning, actually) social project called Mission Kilimanjaro where he and a small team of veterans and civilians summited Kilimanjaro.

Of course, summiting Kilimanjaro, while impressive, isn’t the remarkable part…climbing it alongside a quadruple amputee while raising awareness for disabled kids and veterans (and donating $25,000 to the Mwereni Integrated School for the Blind) certainly is.

The Call to AdventureDan Adams of Athletic Capital

Dan’s story, though, like so many others, didn’t start at this culminating point – it started years before with many trials and tribulations.

Back in high school, Dan knew he wanted to play college football.  While a talented and disciplined player, he was considered undersized for his position as a middle linebacker (at 5’9” 190lbs give or take) and nobody expected him to play college football.

Not only did Dan make the team of a Division I school, he set a record for most unassisted tackles his junior year.  

Possibly even more impressive: he still owns the record for most unassisted tackles in one game many years later (he set the mark pretty high).

After college, Dan entered corporate America.  While he was doing okay for himself financially, he found himself emotionally drained from the unfulfilling work.  At one point in his career, Dan even brought in $34,000 in a single day.  A great day by anyone’s standards, to be sure.

For Dan, it was the worst day of his life.

Dan realized he wasn’t living the life he was advising others to live and this self-reflection led to an epiphany: you can’t change others by telling them what to do, you can only change others by setting the example and living the part.

So Dan set a date to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with Kyle Maynard to show veterans and kids with disabilities around the world that regardless of the challenges they face, no obstacle is too great to conquer.

In 2012, Dan and his team conquered Mount Kilimanjaro.

And now he’s off conquering new and greater obstacles.

Dan’s Hero’s JourneyDan Adam's Higher Purpose Project

This is just a short intro to Dan Adams – an incredibly intelligent, compassionate and driven person.  In today’s broadcast, I sit down with Dan to dig into his story and find out how he did what he did (and what he’s planning for the future).

Just one of the remarkable things we talk about: how Dan uses disciplined visualization to achieve success (from visualizing the plays and tackles he’s going to make the night before a game, to the visualization process for creating an award winning initiative from scratch).

Simply put – if you’re interested in improving yourself or your performance in any aspect of your life, you HAVE to listen to this interview. 

Dan’s the real deal and we dig into exactly what he did to create success in so many aspects of his life.  I know I personally took a ton of notes and plan on listening to this podcast more than once as I develop the projects I’m working on.

So enjoy today’s broadcast and please leave a review on iTunes! when you finish.

What Dan Adams and I talk about:

  • How Dan transitioned from corporate America to founding an award winning movement in less than two years
  • How Dan took the leap into doing work he’s passionate about
  • Why the first step is the hardest (but also the most important)
  • The importance of adversity and taking big leaps
  • Dan’s 2 painful and personal experiences that changed his life
  • The importance of embodying the virtues we want to see in others (and living the life we want to see others live)
  • How Dan uses visualization to manifest his life on a daily basis (seriously, he’s set national records and won massive awards using this technique)
  • What it’s like to start with no experience, no resources, and no connections, yet still craft and bring into reality an award winning project
  • The power of focusing on one thing at a time
  • How Dan creates success in his life through persistent focus and discipline
  • How Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” influenced Dan’s personal creative journey
  • How Dan built an award winning mission by learning from others and connecting the dots
  • How fear is an indicator to take the first step and a guidepost that you’re headed in the right direction
  • The power of expressing authentic gratitude for another persons work as a way to start a powerful relationship
  • Why having the mindset of creating value for others will always lead you to success
  • How Dan bootstrapped a massively successful personal change initiative (and how next year will be even better)
  • Why you need to embrace Neverland (the Peter Pan story Neverland, not Michael Jackson’s ranch)

Awesome Quotes:

On the need for adversity:

“When everything is comfortable we don’t take the steps we need to evolve.” [tweet]

On fear (and courage):

“Whenever I fear something I go right at it.  I see fear as the accelerator.” [tweet]

On starting your hero’s journey:

 “The people that succeed are the people that take the first step.” [tweet]

A Short Clip from Dan’s Project: Mission Kilimanjaro:

Where You Can Find Dan:

Additional Show Notes

Joseph Campbell (Hero’s Journey) Collected Works

**p.s. if you enjoy the show, please leave a review on iTunes and help spread the word.


3 Life-Transforming Reasons You Should Go on More Adventures

Change Your Input, Change Your Life

3 reasons you need to go on more adventures

When’s the last time you made yourself uncomfortable?

This question isn’t rhetorical and it’s definitely worth answering (at least to yourself).


Because your answer is indicative of the life you’re currently living – for better or worse.

So many of us instinctively stick to what we know.

We grow up playing certain sports and we stick with them through high school, college and (if we have just the right amount of luck) into our adult years.

The same goes for musical instruments, languages, hobbies and just about everything else in life.

It’s almost as if after we graduate school and get a job, new experiences vanish.

We become adults and we stick to what we know – to what’s comfortable.

It’s a shame, because sticking to what’s comfortable limits the adventures we’ll have in life.

And adventure is what we need now more than ever in a world where sedentary connectivity is the norm.

The following are 3 life-improving reasons you should go on more adventures.

1. Adventure makes you smarter…

In an experiment conducted by German researches, 40 mice were put in a large, enriched environment (5 levels of glass chutes, toys, scaffolds, nesting places and more) and monitored over the course of 3 months.

It turns out that the mice who explored more built more new neurons than those who explored less:

“Researchers found that the brains of the most explorative mice were building more new neurons — a process known as neurogenesis — in the hippocampus, the center for learning and memory, than the animals that were more passive.” [Article]

Neurons are fundamental for the functioning of the brain and body as a whole. 

The more neurons we build, the greater our capacity for motor and sensory development.  If we actively build and engage more neurons we can become better at things like reading comprehension, scientific reasoning and mathematics.

Of course, we’re not rats in a cage, so how can we implement this advice?


  • Travel more
  • Travel often (to new places)
  • Travel young (but if you’re not young, travel anyway)

Don’t have the time or means to travel?

  • Go to a new coffee shop
  • Take a new route home
  • Go for a run on new trail
  • Try a new brand
  • Draw
  • Write
  • Start a business
  • Take lessons on any topic you find interesting
  • Read (a lot)

The list could go on for days, literally only limited by your creativity (and if you consider yourself lacking creativity, check out my pay-what-you-want guide: Putting On Your Brain Goggles – it will help you invent, design and develop creative ideas)

In any way you can, expose yourself to new experiences.

The more you explore, the smarter you’ll become.

2.  Adventure gives you photographic memory…

The brain naturally lumps together consistent, similar memories.

This is effective from a storage and functioning standpoint – our brains don’t need superfluous details to function – but it also has drawbacks.

Think about your last year of work or school.  What stands out?

How about from middle school or high school?  What do you remember?

Chances are the majority of your memories are blurred and dull.  The day to day grind fades away over time.  What’s left is a general impression of what life was like at the time…an impression that will continue to shift, distort and change over time as you grow older.

So what happened to the details?

The truth is they’re nowhere to be found because most of our days are monotonous, familiar and ordinary. 

Under conditions like that, details fade.

Which means if you want to improve your memory – if you want to actually remember the details – you need to change things up.

According to psychology writer Claudia Hammod, you are most likely to remember an event if it is “distinctive, vivid, personally involved and is a tale you have recounted many times since.” [Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception]

To create long lasting, detailed memories, focus on these 4 elements of creating a memorable event:

1)      Distinctive – how does it differentiate from your day to day grind?  Changing up coffee shops is a good start.  Taking a day trip to the Bahamas is better.  There’s probably a happy medium in there somewhere.  Experiment and explore and figure out what’s right for you (but different than you’re used to).

2)      Vivid – how many senses are you stimulating?  The more senses we can stimulate at one time – and the better we can focus on this stimulation – the more vivid our memories will be.  Plus, there’s an added benefit to stimulating things like your sense of smell because it’s directly linked to your memory.  And you can make an event vivid without artificial sense stimulants (beer, cigarettes, etc.) – all it takes is awareness and focus.  When in doubt, do things that are intense (and pay attention to the details).

3)      Personal Involvement– you need to be the protagonist of your story.  Watching a rugby game?  Cool.  Playing fly-half and leading your team to a state championship victory?  The latter memory will stay with you longer – much longer.  So as much (and as often) as you can – be the person doing stuff:  Run from the bulls.  Take the wheel.  Make the introduction.  Get out of the bleachers and get into the arena.

4)      Recountable – memories relived are memories remembered (redundant, sure – but still true) .  If you had a remarkable time doing something, make sure to actually remark to someone about it.  Or at least to yourself.  Preferably several times a year.  Memories will stay clear and detailed the more you recollect and recount.

Want to create distinctive, vivid, personally involved, recountable events?

You guessed it – go on more adventures.

Exploring, traveling, learning, creating…all these things automatically hit all 4 elements, and what you’re left with is something you can actually remember in detail.

Photographic memory?

Okay, that’s hyperbole, but it’s pretty darn close.

3.  Adventure lengthens your life…

Or at least the perception of it.

Extraordinary things stick in our minds longer and more clearly than merely ordinary things (see above).

The memory of mundane, comfortable, ordinary routine lumps together and fades away in time.

Novelty, on the other hand, is a jolt to the brain system – we not only remember new experiences more vividly, they also seem longer to us when we reflect on them.  This is called the “Holiday Paradox” by Hammod:  “the contradictory feeling that a good holiday whizzes by, yet feels long when you look back.”

It follows then that the more often we experience change (and the more dramatic the change), the longer our lives will seem.

As a personal anecdote, I remember moving a lot as I grew up.  It seemed like every few years my family would move to a new location.  Sure, I never had the chance to establish roots anywhere, but I think I got the better end of the bargain: a brain constantly exposed to new people, locations and things.

And because it happened every few years, I remember each location uniquely and vividly.

This is in stark contrast to many people I’ve met who’ve spent their whole lives in the same neighborhood or working the same job.  Ask them about the last 5, 10, or 20 years and it’s a blur of sameness.

The question isn’t one of right or wrong, or living a good life or a bad one, or anything like that – the question here is: would you rather have vivid, positive memories throughout your life (and continue to create new, remarkable memories, or would you rather be the person who brings up his high school football highlight reel 20 years later?

So if you want to lengthen your life (or at least the perception of your life), go on more adventures.

If you want to take it one step further and not just lengthen the perception of life, but actually add years to your life, then go on physically strenuous adventures (consistently).

Not only will your life seem longer, you’ll have more years to create new, meaningful memories.

In the End

Will going on adventures make you smarter, improve your memory, and increase your lifespan?

The research suggests it will.

But it comes at a price.

There’s something I didn’t mention earlier but would be remiss not to mention at all: going on adventures, traveling, exploring, creating, learning – these things are fun, exhilarating and enlightening in their own right, but they do come at a price.


Everything new is uncomfortable.  It has to be by its nature.

And that’s the rub – if you want to live a life of adventure, you need to get used to discomfort.

Sounds easy enough to deal with, but how many people do you know who’ve avoided taking action, avoided trying something new, avoided starting something that might not work because the prospect of doing any of those things is, well, uncomfortable?

Probably more than you or I’d care to admit…

The silver lining: it’s never too late to start. 

It’s never too late to try something new. 

It’s never too late to change.

In the end, the choice – and the responsibility – is entirely yours.

Whatever you decide, I hope you make the right choice for you.

Be bold and keep creating.

(p.s. and go on more adventures)

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How to Find the Strength to Continue When You Feel Like Quitting (a letter to those in the trenches)

On the Pain of Creative Work

Photo credit: click from

Creative work is hard as hell.

If you’re a writer, entrepreneur, or anyone else challenging and pushing boundaries (read: instigator), you know what I’m talking about.

In fact, creative work is probably the hardest work there is – something only those bold enough to create can appreciate.

But what makes creative work so hard?

1.  Creative work is uncertain

Doing creative work means we can fail at any point.

All the hard work we do this week, this month or this year could end up being for nothing.  No reward.  No payout.  No bonus.

In the beginning, most bootstrappers work 80 hour weeks and make sweat shop wages.  To make matters worse, the majority of startups fail.  And for the aspiring writer?  The landscape is even bleaker…

2.  Creative work is exhausting

Creative work requires us to be on point every hour of every day.

If we’re not doing our best work, if we’re not going as hard as we can, if we’re not constantly pushing the boundaries, then we’re at risk of being overshadowed by someone who’s willing to hustle harder.  The fear is this: any moment we fail to capitalize on is a moment that could have been our tipping point – the thing that allows us to break out of obscurity.

Worse yet, the only thing more exhausting than putting our mind, body and soul into a project, day after day, is the anxiety we experience from the thought of wasting time or losing ground…

3.  Creative work is lonely

For most of us, creating something from scratch requires long periods of time devoted to working in solitude.

This requires a great deal of self-imposed isolation – something that inevitably becomes lonely over a period of time.  This isolation is made even more painful when the few times we do interact with other people they don’t “get” what we’re doing.

The only thing lonelier than working in isolation is working beside people who don’t get what you’re doing.

Finding the Strength to Continue

Face it, if you do creative work, at some point the uncertainty, exhaustion and loneliness will make you want to quit.

I can’t tell you how many times a week (a day?) I want to throw in the towel and walk away.

This is the inner creative war we each have to fight if we want to do great work.

It’s at times like this, when things get darkest, you need to remember what’s important.


  • Remember, you didn’t sign up for consistency, safety, or security – that wasn’t part of the deal.  You signed up for the thrill (and payoff) of the big win.  And sometimes that means taking big losses.  Everyone falls and everyone fails.  That’s the easy part.  Only those with courage rise again, dust themselves off, and enter the fray once more.  Be courageous.  Keep doing the work.


  • Remember the power you have as the underdog, the creative insurgent, and the unpredictable instigator.  While big companies worry about maintaining the status quo, you have the opportunity to disrupt everything.  Accept this opportunity gladly.  Take action boldly.


  • Remember the power of compounding interest.  A small action today doesn’t mean much.  A years worth of small actions could change your life.


  • Remember, it’s not  about the money – it’s about the experience of the journey and the opportunity for growth along the way.  Sometimes (most times), the experience and education is worth way more than the money anyway.  Work hard.  Learn a lot.  Enjoy the journey.  The money will come.


  • Remember, your power isn’t based on the tangible assets you own, but the creative assets you develop.  You might start with “nothing,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t create everything.  Start with what inspires you.  Build/Design/Create that first.  Over time, the cumulative results of your effort will stand like a brilliant empire of creative work.  This is your life’s work.  This is what matters.


  • Remember, even if the first hundred attempts don’t work, you only truly fail if you stop trying.  But also remember that you will inevitably fail if you don’t learn from your mistakes.  Trial and error works only if you measure the trials and learn from the errors.  What I’m trying to say is if you’re re-routing, stop.  Focus on what’s important and keep tweaking, testing, and experimenting until it works.


  • Remember, it’s not worth doing if you don’t enjoy it.  That doesn’t mean you should quit when the writing gets painful (it will), or when the business takes a dive (it might) – these things are the headaches we accept as artists and entrepreneurs.  I’m talking about a deeper, core enjoyment – the kind you get from doing worthwhile work.  If, at the end of the day, you’re miserable with the work you do and the life you’re living – change it.  We have one life – a shorter life than you can possibly imagine.  You may have another 30 years left or you might be gone tomorrow. Why spend even one second NOT doing something worthwhile?

But most of all, remember this:

The rest of the world probably won’t get why you do what you do.

But you didn’t do it for them, did you?

Do the work.  Do YOUR work.  And do it for the happy few who want what you create.

Serve those people.

Ignore everyone else.

They’re not worth a second of your time anyway.

A Caveat

Creative work is hard…

But here’s the thing: life is hard.

Any course of action you choose in life will be hard – hard because you chose to enter the trenches, fight the creative fight, and do work that matters, or hard because you chose to avoid the trenches, insolate yourself from challenging, impactful work, and accept what life throws at you.

I’m sorry, but there’s no happy medium, no painless compromise.

These are the only two options.

So what will you choose?

Call me a ruffian, but I’ll choose the former.

I hope you do the same.

New to the blog?  Join the Resistance and join me and an army of creative ruffians (artists, entrepreneurs and all around instigators) doing important work.  Never fight along – join the Resistance.