Tropical MBA Notes 2020

Tropical MBA

TMBA526: Our Business Goals for the New Year

Date: 2020-01-02


Work to learn. Not to earn.

For physical products the scary part is putting a lot of chips down for one specific iteration of the product (inventory).

It always takes someone a while to come into a business and be effective.

TMBA527: Letting Go of Your Ego

Date: 2020-01-09


It is only obvious (you are an alcoholic) when you quit.

Don’t judge your insides by someone else’s outsides.

Focus on what makes you happy outside of business as well as what it takes to run a successful business.

TMBA528: The Brenwall Code

Date: 2020-01-16


Being young is difficult.

Cut expenses.

TMBA529: The Price of Progress

Date: 2020-01-23


Book: The Story of B

Why would you sacrifice life to get more stuff?

Work is doing something you would rather not do.

There is a reason there are seasons.

When you look at it critically there is no real reason to think that things are always getting better.

The economy that is more relevant now is the attention economy.

People that really have power don’t care about countries. They don’t give a shit about countries. To them countries are like sports teams. They don’t care.

TMBA530: Don’t Be a Victim of Your Own Success

Date: 2020-01-30


The less things you have, the less responsibilities, the more freeing it is.

Focus on your existing community and the relationships you have built. Your competition is never going to take that away from you.

There is no company in the history of the world who has never had a down year.

Shipping companies that are not UPS or FedEx are incredibly inefficient.

Hopefully you are learning something every day.

Amazon has instant traffic and instant proof-of-concept.

At the end of the day what is important is your health, well-being, and your relationships with your family.

Do what makes you feel most comfortable.

Revenues are vanity and profits are sanity.

Ecommerce is tough.

TMBA531: A Lot Can Change In a Year

Date: 2020-02-06


When selling your business your last 12 months of revenue history are what is most important.

It is difficult to acquire customers.

TMBA532: The Middle Game

Date: 2020-02-13


Hire someone who can (get started providing value right away).

Hire someone who can take hours off of your plate.

Content marketing is when you take something of value and offer it to potential customers for free.

There is a lot of synergy around content.

TMBA533: From Cryptocurrency to Cowboy Boots

Date: 2020-02-20


One of the things that make entrepreneurs different than normal people is you are willing to put yourself in a situation where you can potentially lose it all.

The grind is when orders are down.

TMBA534: The Re-Readables: The Millionaire Fastlane

Date: 2020-02-27


Your time is what is most valuable in your life.

You are not really free if you are dependent on Wall Street.

You have to have replicable aspects of your business.

You can’t argue math.

Ultimately you have to attack the market with what it wants. It doesn’t matter if you are following your passion.

When the going gets tough do not quit.

The rewards of entrepreneurship are incredible.

Start having fun tomorrow.

Start living the life you want to live in fifteen years today.

TMBA535: Bringing Your Remote Team Together

Date: 2020-03-05


Nobody starts good at managing. It is something you learn to do by doing it.

Sometimes it is easier to do training and product planning in person.

TMBA536: Are You Really “Unemployable”?

Date: 2020-03-12


The skillset of ownership is not correlated with how much that person owns of the company.

Winning teams require A contributions.

If you are an A player you should act like an owner.

Know how to manage up.

Accumulating power (at your job) takes time.

The real world is chaotic and it is being comfortable with that chaos is what makes you successful as an entrepreneur a lot of times.

Build things that make you interesting to other people and you will start getting invited to better parties.

TMBA537: How Will Coronavirus Affect Your Business?

Date: 2020-03-19


Just because the economy isn’t doing well…doesn’t mean you don’t have to be doing well.

Identify business models and strategies that work even when things aren’t all on the up and up.

TMBA538: Remaining Antifragile in the Wake of the Coronavirus

Date: 2020-03-26


When you have a very small probability of a very high-magnitude event human intuition doesn’t pay enough attention to it.

To make the assumption that the next forty years is going to look like the last forty years–that is a pretty big assumption.

There is an ethical and moral component here in terms of our behaviour.

Be fast and aggressive in the actions you are taking.

We all have emotional attachments to our business.

TMBA539: Weathering the Storm

Date: 2020-04-02


Amazon businesses have pretty thin margins.

You dip into the principal (of your savings) and suddenly it is a snowball effect.

Don’t got the VC route. Once you do your path is set in stone.

Valuation doesn’t mean anything unless you are successful and can exit.

Entrepreneurship is a great life.

TMBA540: Are You Generating Income or Wealth?

Date: 2020-04-09


The entrepreneurial part of you has to be a little excited about the challenge that lays in front of you and about the opportunities that exist for us.

Investing in yourself makes the most sense.

There are a lot of people who don’t get their meaning from their work.

You can have work that is high in wealth generation and work that is high in income generation and typically they are different types of work.

Anybody who is working on a business in the early days is generating wealth with very little income.

Most people don’t get huge amounts of money without doing wealth-building.

Minimalism is a way to try to be happy without spending money.

You are never going to find a perfect business idea. You are going to have to pick something eventually to focus on for two, three, five, ten years. Keep focusing on it and don’t allow yourself to get too distracted.

The only people that stick with entrepreneurship long-term are the ones who literally cannot be happy doing anything else.

The thing you choose to focus on makes a big difference.

All of the best companies in the world make their products better and cheaper.

Provide a higher-value service so you can work with higher-value clients.

Get good enough at a skill that someone will pay you to do that skill.

TMBA541: An American Based in China Shares His Perspective on the Coronavirus Outbreak

Date: 2020-04-16


In China there are a lot of gray areas for everything.

The hardest question for countries now is how to open the economy because it is not easy.

People don’t go out and spend money when they are scared of the virus.

TMBA542: The Entrepreneurmobile Revisited

Date: 2020-04-23


Dealers are in the business of margin.

Know the vehicle maintenance history which you are going to ask for from the seller.

TMBA543: Taking the Entrepreneurial Leap

Date: 2020-04-30


Book: Traction

EOS = Entrepreneur Operating System

Your business cannot be dependent on you.

Danielle Kennedy: “We teach what we need the most.”

There is no formula for becoming an entrepreneur.

True entrepreneurs don’t follow rules. You set your own rules. You do it your own way.

Your job as an entrepreneur in the making is to decide what you are built for–what you are drawn to.

44% of small business owners have a degree.

A mentor is someone where you want to be.

TMBA544: Should You Hire a General Manager?

Date: 2020-05-07


The middle game is the stage in entrepreneurship when you have enough success that you’re not scrambling for survival and you have a little more perspective to really reflect at what you want to do.

Having two people who know how to code get together to build something is kind of a superpower.

The perfect person is an impossible ideal.

Book: Who

Please lose sight of what to focus on and start chasing shiny objects.

It is up to a visionary to drive things at a strategic level.

Hiring a high-level executive is different than hiring a customer service representative.

TMBA545: Is Dropshipping Still a Valid Business Model?

Date: 2020-05-14


American media is owned by corporations.

Drop-shipping is the middle-man between retail and the manufacturer.

Once you are building on Amazon you are giving up your marketing channel to a third-party.

Drop-shipping is not the end of the game, it is the beginning of the game.

Drop-shipping is vulnerable to competition.

The most dangerous thing you can do is not get started.

TMBA546: Adjusting to the ‘New Normal’

Date: 2020-05-21


As hard as entrepreneurship can be, the pros significantly outweigh the cons.

If your business depends on you, you don’t have a business, you have a job.

When you can focus on one thing that is when you can have the best results and the best outcome.

Create more than you consume.

TMBA547: How Coronavirus is Disrupting the Events Industry

Date: 2020-05-28


The origin story of any entrepreneur will heavily influence how they do things.

You are always going to run out of money eventually if you don’t make changes.

TMBA548: The First 1,000 Days of Running an Agency

Date: 2020-06-04


The benefit of being an American developer is the understanding–the communication.

It is scary just to give someone your money especially through the Internet.

Shopify and Amazon have two completely different markets.

TMBA549: 10 Tech Tools We Use In Our Business Every Day

Date: 2020-06-11


Airtable, Zapier, Slack


Complexity isn’t a problem but it has to scale with what your total administrative resources are.

Gmail Templates

Keyboard shortcuts (in Gmail)


AHREFS is your home base for SEO knowledge.


Rev for audio transcripts.



TMBA550: Revisiting Our 2020 Business Goals

Date: 2020-06-18


There is a difference between passive and active learning.

If you want to have a great business you need to have a great team.

The Internet makes it very easy to try to use people.

TMBA551: Transitioning from Freelancer to Running a Business

Date: 2020-06-25


Find the absolute bottom-line number needed to pay the bills and not end up in the street.

Keep existing clients with what they are used to and make changes for new clients.

You don’t need to treat every client the same.

Flexibility is huge.

Create a company that you would like to work in.

Be the manager that you would like to have.

TMBA552: The Art of Buying and Selling Web Domains

Date: 2020-07-02


You have to have a lot of capital to use investing strategies as a path to generate wealth and large amounts of passive income.

You can buy domains on eBay.

If you are going to be invested in an industry it is always great to attend conferences and gatherings.

Mentioning that you have a trademark instantly puts people on the defensive.

It is better to build a business and build up and buy the .com at some point. It is always better than not starting the business.

Some of the largest corporations in the world are some of the largest owners of domain names.

If you are thinking of an idea there are probably ten more people thinking of the same thing.

Sometimes it is not fun to part with something you own.

The people that the best salespeople would never call themselves salespeople. These people are relationship builders.

TMBA553: Protecting Your Passion

Date: 2020-07-09


The best job security you have is in your own business.

You do need to police that other companies are not infringing on your trademark or you could dilute your trademark.

Trademark law is a very gray area.

There are good attorneys out there.

TMBA554: A Healthy Equilibrium

Date: 2020-07-16


SEO is a free marketing channel. You don’t have to pay to display.

The reason SaaS is so great is that the revenue is recurring. The downside is that your monthly amount you are charging is much lower.

In today’s society there are too many people clinging on hope and not enough people doing.

The best way to change your life is for you to take control and worry about the things that are within your control.

It is a combination of learning and doing.

Learning by doing is often the best strategy.

TMBA555: Are Productized Services Overrated?

Date: 2020-07-23


Set up the business so that it isn’t reliant on you.

It takes a number of years to hire the right people and build the right systems.

A productized service has a set price for a set of deliverables.

You need to provide something of value to your customers to have a sustainable business.

TMBA556: Navigating the Dip

Date: 2020-07-30


If you start to treat (a community as a system) then things start to fall apart.

It matters the way you talk to people.

Your interactions can’t 100% be systematized.

Your momentum slows.

TMBA557: Ascending the Staircase

Date: 2020-08-06


Fast growing startups are rarely profitable. Growth takes money. Growth takes people.

Entrepreneurs solve hard problems with creative solutions.

The really, really hard part is getting from $0 to $50k.

Have the ability to believe in yourself–that you can do it.

70-80% of venture funds to do not return better than the S&P500.

Most funds break even on the management fee.

It is hard to start a SaaS business. It is expensive and quite competitive these days.

There are so many more options today than existed five to ten years ago.

Pricing is the number one lever of any business.

Finding new customers is time-consuming. It takes a ton of work. It is expensive.

TMBA558: Are You Running the Wrong Kind of Business?

Date: 2020-08-13


Book: Happy by Darren Brown

The story you tell yourself is one of the most important things.

Having love and support gives you confidence to go out and do stuff.

The best SEO agencies are generally very good at sales and marketing and not very good at deliverables.

Business selection is mostly tied to identity and personality.

Software takes a really long time.

TMBA559: A Summer in Review

Date: 2020-08-20


Cities are ridiculously important for nomadic entrepreneurs.

Cities are ever changing.

(This pandemic) has accelerated history.

If you are just leveraging lifestyle arbitrage and are not leveling up your skill set then you are vulnerable to the situation where you have to come home.

It is very hard to commoditize entrepreneurship.

Be careful who you hook your intellectual wagon to.

A lot of entrepreneurs thrive on change.

Don’t sit around (and wait for things to go back to normal).

You can count on change. People underestimate its power all of the time.

TMBA560: 3 Strategies for Acquiring Wealth

Date: 2020-08-27


Any good wealth strategy brings three elements to the table. It brings a mindset element. It bring strategic elements. It brings timing elements.

If you don’t take responsibility for how you are earning income then you are going to be the last one to know when that process breaks down.

Managing stress is a learned skill.

One of the great things about personal finances is you can experience the benefits of entrepreneurship right away.

Fundamentally is what any good financial plan does is drop profit to the bottom line.

FIRE is a necessary step to becoming wealthy but not a sufficient step.

The most important side of the balance sheet is the income.

Making money with money is incredibly hard.

TMBA561: The Smoking Tire

Date: 2020-09-03


Can you do the thing you want to do with enough success to feed your family?

You can’t win the internet.

Try not to compare yourself to other people directly.

If you grow something slowly odds are it is not going to die the next day.

You go to where the audience is.

The idea that you can take an audience from one place and move them to another place, unless you are a celebrity, is a fallacy.

TMBA562: Mailbag: Freedom, Location, and Love in the Age of COVID

Date: 2020-09-10


Luck is a constant in the universe to focusing on that isn’t go to do much good.

Location is a competitive advantage.

It is a huge bandwidth being across the table from someone…you cannot recreate it with Zoom.

Places don’t change that fast.

Businesses are entities that create real information about the world.

Exit velocity is the combination of resources you build from a career.

An entrepreneur cares more about the company’s money than their own.

Engage in a strategy that keeps you moving forward.

Fun is an enormous competitive advantage.

TMBA563: How Software With a Service (SwaS) Startups Can Succeed Big in Traditional Industries

Date: 2020-09-17


Insurance is a dinosaur.

When you are everything to everyone it is difficult to be good at anything.

There are thousands of products that are complex and absolutely critical to organizations that you can layer a service on top of.

Insurance is a massive opportunity. They are going through a huge digitization at the moment. That is something that is going to take decades.

If you want to do a SwaS you need partnerships.

TMBA564: The Knowledge Gap vs The Efficiency Gap Revisited (Again)

Date: 2020-09-24


At the end of the day with entrepreneurship the proof is in the pudding and the only score that counts is the one that you keep for yourself.

Take shortcuts when you can.

Keep a spreadsheet about how profitable each client is.

You can charge more and the person is happier (by providing them more value).

If there is not a pain it is unlikely there is going to be a sale.

Are there other decision makers involved with the sale? Have another meeting and get all of those people in the room.

“How do I become valuable to other people and how do I deliver that?”

Reality is complicated.

TMBA565: The Origins of the 1,000 Day Principle

Date: 2020-10-01


In your career, if you are not moving up every three years you should move out.

Ideas are free. Anybody can have an idea. Somebody has to put a lot of energy and effort behind an idea in order to turn it into anything.

Because of the knowledge gained in one business (you) are able to move really quickly in (your) second business.

The goal is to never to trade your time for money. The goal is to have an asset.

Building a product that people care about is difficult.

It is important to interact with people as you build your business.

TMBA566: Why Do SaaS Businesses Fail?

Date: 2020-10-08


Some people are really good at growing companies from something to something higher. Others are good at growing companies from zero to something.

Work with smart people on really hard problems.

Marketers in online businesses help define the product itself.

If you let your developers drive the product you might end up with nobody seeing it.

If you don’t run the experiment you will just forever build your dream product.

TMBA567: A Shopify Software Business Success Story

Date: 2020-10-15


It is impossible to separate your ego from your business and success or lack thereof.

No matter how big you grow or how fast, there is always bigger, there is always faster.

Expand your view of what (customer) fit really means.

You cannot buy understanding of the nuances of a product category.

You get so much more back from sharing.

The amount of time it takes to build revenue to something substantiation (in SaaS) is awful.

Outside money means you speed up the cycles because you have more people doing more stuff in a shorter amount of time. Just because you raise money doesn’t mean it is going to work. It just speeds up your failure or your success.

TMBA568: ‘I’m Fiscally Bitcoin and Socially Ethereum’

Date: 2020-10-22


A lot of people learn about crypto from the media and the media only hears about crypto when prices are doing crazy things.

There is a big difference between investing and trading.

The amount of Bitcoins that are created is being cut in half every four years.

You need to have backup plans for your backup plans.

People are using Bitcoin as a hedge against the financial system. People are investing in Ethereum’ as a venture capital investment.

‘What does the future of decentralized everything look like?”

Bitcoiners are very conservative.

Bitcoin has created digital gold.

When you sell your Bitcoin you pay capital gains tax.

Money goes through many stages of existence. It starts off as a store of value.

The more people that hold onto (money) the more stable the price will become.

The reality of finance today is that it is centrally controlled by these gatekeepers.

The amount of people using crypto is still relatively small.

Using wealth to generate income is the next step (after creating income).

TMBA569: An Ode to DCBKK

Date: 2020-10-29


There is very much a camaraderie in being together and growing together.

The only force that can stand in your way is yourself.

It is not sufficient to believe in yourself but it is necessary.

For online businesses it is really simple–you need an acquisition channel for customers.

There are a lot of ways to earn a living for yourself and your family.

Having a North Star makes it easier to avoid shiny object syndrome.

Separate the ego from the game. Separate your self worth from what you are working on.

There are no finish lines.

Money is just the exchange of value.

TMBA570: Productizing Your Way to Freedom

Date: 2020-11-05


You need to know what the end result of your direction looks like and then walk back from there.

Real entrepreneurship is when you place bets on business assets.

Circumstances change.

Your job as an entrepreneur is making difficult decisions all day long.

Nobody owes you their money. You need to find product-market fit.

Get good at doing sales.

The productized service model is not the same as SaaS.

It is amazing how the universe does conspire once you get very focused on making money rather than messing around with Facebook ads or landing pages or campaigns or website rebuilds or strategies or tactics.

It is time to grow up and be a business person.

It is about making decisions. If you can’t make (hard) decisions then don’t go into business.

Every time you are faced with a challenge you learn something.

You have to keep solving a pain constantly.

If you have a simple service to deliver you have a very small moat.

If you are not sharing then you are not going to get anything back.

You need to start building business assets that are worth something, that change something in the world, that are valuable.

TMBA571: There is Only One Kevin Kelly

Date: 2020-11-12


It is hard to not be dystopian at this point.

It is hard to be extremely fulfilled if you are always hungry.

We need to make an environment where more potential can be realized.

Current AIs are very good at pattern recognition.

Smartness is overrated.

Thinkism is where you can think you can solve problems by thinking about them.

You have to have more than intelligence to solve a problem. You need time, you need to experiment, you need to find data, you need to uncover new evidence.

Focusing on doing things that are of use to others is the best way to wealth.

TMBA572: 4 Things We’ve Learned From Building a New Software Platform

Date: 2020-11-19


You can grow sustainable, profitable businesses with a lot less people than you used to be able to and that is because of the distributed workforce.

For software as a service, the service is a big part.

Ensure that the sales and marketing team has a strong voice in the company.

Build things that you can sell to your customers.

Prioritization has to happen in small companies because you just don’t have the resources.

TMBA573: The Art of Personal Blogging

Date: 2020-11-26


If you are starting a personal blog then let it be fun and write when you have something to say otherwise it will feel like work.

To really flesh out an idea…it takes sitting down and writing an essay and truly formulating the thought.

Writing helps you work through your thoughts.

Set your expectations upfront. What do you want from your site?

It is easy to get distracted when you start getting good feedback from people.

The reality is nobody is reading your first blog post.

The only way to get better (at blogging) is to publish, and publish, and publish.

You can change your entire career with one blog post and one person reading it.

Sometimes doing things in public can get you attention for the wrong reasons.

Don’t write about it when you are in the middle of the mess. Wait until you are through the mess, and have some perspective on it, before writing about it.

With blogging or podcasting you are a bit removed but there are real people out there.

Instagram is how people interact now.

Your own blog is your place–your space. You can curate it whatever way you want.

Who are you writing for? How will it change their lives?

Reach out to somebody who wrote something that was awesome.

You can change your life with a blog.

You gotta keep it real.

Your blog and personal brand has to be really aligned with you.

Write stuff that you as a person are interested in because it is your personal brand.

Give yourself permission to be a beginner.

Find something where you enjoy the process.

TMBA574: The Power of Entrepreneurial Persistence

Date: 2020-12-03


Entrepreneurship is about risk management–not risk taking.

There is a fantasy in the maker world that you can just make something and put it out there.

There is a distinction between personal runway and business runway or burn rate.

What kind of validation are you getting on your ideas?

Don’t risk your personal runway without customers, clients, or employment.

The only validation that matters is money coming into your bank account.

The universe does not owe you anything.

What is your reason for being an entrepreneur?

Don’t treat entrepreneurship like you would a sabbatical.

What you do for the world is ultimately what you are going to get compensated for as an entrepreneur.

Some years are going to suck. Some years are going to be great. As an entrepreneur you have to be comfortable with large swings.

TMBA575: A Blue Collar Origin Story

Date: 2020-12-10


SaaS is tough.

Keep the eyes on the numbers yourself. Don’t outsource that.

People are busy and they have a lot of things to do. Saving a dollar or two that is going to make their life more complicated is not something they want to do.

Warehouses are not a lifestyle business.

You need to maintain optimism.

If you have to understand something the way to understand is by doing it.

TMBA576: The Kings of Crypto

Date: 2020-12-17


Book: The Kings of Crypto

Book: Shoedog

(Some) CEOs have an iron will and dedication that will power them through anything.

You need Silicon Valley-type people to rewire the financial system.

A lot of people want to work for companies that have values.

There is a whole ideological dimension to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

While crypto is cool there are limitations to who is going to adopt it.

(Crypto) is facing opposition from governments.

Apple is probably going to get into (the crypto) game at some point.

TMBA577: A Wild and Unforgettable Year in Review

Date: 2020-12-24


Meeting people and bonding is an important part of the entrepreneurial community.

The idea of slow travel is that you travel less places and then when you are there you live like you live there.

The more you build up a rapport with somebody (when trying to purchase something), email or verbally, the easier it is to work on getting a price that is fair for everybody.

The ego is the root of all of our issues.

TMBA578: It’s All About the Fundamentals

Date: 2020-12-31


Book: Total Money Makeover

Spend less than you earn.

Be intentional about how you invest and spend money.

Your first business is the business of your personal finances.

A task expands to the amount of time you allot to it.

Identify what is valuable and then make it a habit.

Fundamentals are always simple.

Elon Musk does time-boxing.