Three Lessons Learned Building a Backyard Chicken Coop

We’ve always lived in neighborhoods, but recently we moved to a couple of acres and built a chicken coop.  Here are three lessons learned during that process.

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The Two People Every Organization Needs


Every organization, whether it’s a business or a non-profit, needs at least two types of leaders to find sustainability. Gino Wickman and Marc Winters call these two people the visionary and the integrator.

The visionary generates ideas, sees the big picture and provides the passion. He has a mental picture of the future in vivid color.  But it can be tough to stay focused, execute on anything that looks like details, and falls victim to too many ideas.  

The integrator beats the drum and makes sure the trains run on time.  They are steady, more detailed, and are often the voice of reason.  Integrators are managers who know how to get things done.  

Occasionally, one person can fulfill both of these roles, but it’s extremely rare. You’re likely one or the other.  I’m a natural visionary but can live int he integrator role if necessary.  I won’t thrive there, though.  

What about you?  Are you a visionary or an integrator?

Every organization needs both.  It’s Yin and Yang – two forces seemingly opposed to each other but actually help each other as they interact. One without the other is doomed.  

Walt Disney (visionary) had his brother Roy (integrator).  John D. Rockefeller (visionary) had Henry M. Flagler (integrator).  Henry Ford (visionary) had James Couzens (integrator).  In each of those cases, it was the powerful combination, not just a great idea or not just daily execution, that led to success.

In the book Rocket Fuel, Gino and Marc give five rules to make the visionary/integrator relationship work.  These are worth considering.

  1. Stay on the same page.  A monthly “same page” meeting can help, giving each person space to check in, talk about issues and solve problems. 
  2. No end runs.  Since visionaries and integrators solve problems differently, this rule prevents complaining and power struggles.  
  3. The integrator is the tie breaker. Consensus management doesn’t work so decide in advance who will break the ties.  They suggest the integrator since the visionary will be passionate about every idea! 
  4. You are an employee when working in the business. Even if you’re the owner, when you’re doing the job portion of your role, you have to have accountability. 
  5. Maintain mutual respect.  Fake respect won’t work; treat each other like partners. 

The visionary/integrator language is helpful for me as I look at my business. What about you?

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Two Questions Every Potential Customer is Asking


Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to hear Dan Pink speak at the Authority Rainmaker event in Denver. Copyblogger is one of my favorite websites and Dan Pink is one of my favorite authors.  His book, To Sell is Human, is fantastic.

Dan talked about the two questions every customer is asking and challenged us to answer these questions in a compelling way. Here are those two questions.

  1.  What’s in it for me? 

This is the top question in people’s mind.  Not your product.  Not your business.  But themselves.

Customers don’t care about your product – they care about what it will do for them. They are about how it will work and what will happen.  In other words, they just want results.

They are more interested in the outcome than the process.  They are attracted to the benefits, not the packaging.

Want to see an example? Just do a Google image search for “diet book covers.”  They feature healthy, in-shape people because those are the results people want.  They don’t want to eat less or exercise…they want to look like the guy or girl on the cover.  The titles of the book are usually people focused (You on a Diet) or benefit-centric (watch the pounds disappear).  It’s all about results and benefits.

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Belle Beth Cooper says people don’t buy products, they buy better version of themselves. That’s a great way to say people don’t want your product, they want what your product can do.

Jason Fried says it like this: If you truly want to sell something, it’s fine to describe it.  But focus the majority of your efforts on describing results.

If you want your product or service to connect with customers, you’ve got to talk about what’s in it for them.

  1. Compared to what?

Dan Pink says this is the second question people are asking when thinking about your product or service.

People don’t make a decision based on the merits of your particular claim – they compare that  that claim to something else they have heard or experienced.  “People make decisions in relative ways,” Pink says.

He shares the story about a man sitting on the sidewalk looking for donations.  His sign read, “I am blind.”

Someone then modified the sign to say, “It is springtime and I am blind.”  Donations went up with the second sign because the additional words gave people a point of comparison.  People can look around and compare their feelings of spring to what the blind man can’t experience.

When people are looking at your product or service, they are comparing it to something else.  The comparison might not be fair in your mind, but it doesn’t matter.

For example, Church Fuel sells coaching and resources to help pastors lead their churches to healthy growth?  Do you know the number one objection we face? People tell us there’s so much free information in blogs and podcasts.  They see our products and immediately compare them to all the free information out there.  It’s not a fair comparison in my mind, but that’s not my call to make.

How you position your product really matters.

If you’re YETI, you don’t position your cooler next to the red IGLOO or try to compete on price. You position it next to other high-end products like the Big Green Egg or expensive fishing boats.

If you’re trying to sell an online course, try positioning it next to consulting, which is usually priced at a premium, not the cheap courses you can find on

People are going to compare your product no matter what so go ahead and figure it out and make decisions accordingly.

I’m thinking through these two questions in regards to my business. If you want to learn more about the psychology of selling, I highly recommend Dan Pink’s book To Sell is Human.

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Decided is Not the Same as Done

Leaders make decisions all the time.

Some decisions are small like what to wear and what to eat.  Other decisions are big like who to hire and which project to tackle.  Some decisions are even life-changing.

Great leaders get good at making decisions. They develop a set of filters and create a system for getting the right kind of feedback. Decision-making is an important and under-rated skill to develop.

But leaders (particularly visionary leaders) must understand something really important when it comes to to decisions.


Decided is not the same thing as done.

Making the correct decision is critical. But when it comes to finding success, it’s even more important to get the execution right.

You can decide to launch the new product line, but the hard work comes in building and marketing it.

You can decide to make the next hire, but the hard work of onboarding them correctly, setting them up for success and evaluating their early performance is what will make the long-term difference.

Even in your personal life, you can decide something important like getting out of debt, but it’s daily and weekly execution of that decision that will get you where you want to be.

In each of those examples, it’s the execution, not the decision, that makes the difference.

Let this sink in for a minute…

A good idea that isn’t executed goes nowhere. A mediocre idea executed well leads to success. That means you don’t need a million-dollar idea.  You need a ten dollar idea with a million dollar execution plan.

You don’t have to come up with the next Facebook or invent an amazing product…you just need to be willing to do the hard work of executing.

Way too many initiatives die, not because of a bad decision, but because of faulty execution.  The success lies not in the power of the idea but in the execution of it.

It’s great to make a decision.

It’s more important to follow through.

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Sidetracked by Supplements

I once made the mistake of walking into a GNC store.  You know those health stores in the mall that sell things that sound like they would either kill you or cure you…

I’m not really a health nut. I’ve been known to run occasionally, but it’s really just because I like the sense of accomplishment and want to eat Fruit Loops for breakfast.

But I was curious about protein shakes. So I walked into this health store.

30 minutes later, I was more confused than ever.  I “learned” about amino acids and fish oil and probiotics, but I still had no idea what any of them were really for.  Should I really be taking this stuff?


The ancient Egyptians knew certain foods had specific benefits, but vitamins as we know them have only been around for the last century. The term vitamine was coined in 1912 by Casimer Funk. The first multivitamin was invented in 1934 by Carl Rehnborg, and it helped launched the modern nutrition industry. Today, people spend more than $12.5 billion a year on vitamins and supplements.

Essential Oils have a similar history. People have used plants as medicine for thousands of years, but the term aromatherapy was not coined until the late 1920s. Today, essential oils are big business.  Just look at Pinterest.

The science for these things is all over the place, from scientific articles in medical journals to your friend who swears by tea tree oil. The guy in the GNC said I was crazy if I didn’t use something called Pro Performance.

All of this is big business.

It’s all extra stuff, designed to go along with a healthy diet (assuming Fruit Loops don’t count which kind of makes me sad) and normal, healthy living. Stores like GNC and Vitamin Shoppe make a killing form selling supplements, even though a normal, healthy diet renders most of them unnecessary for most people.

Supplements are not the main thing. Hence, the reason they are called supplements. Taking a daily multivitamin is probably fine, but it can’t compensate for an unhealthy diet. Your body needs protein and carbs and sugar before it needs creatine shakes, grape seed extract or CoQ-10.

You can take all the vitamins in the world and fill your house with essential oils, but if you don’t eat real food, you will die.

This is a really important principle in life and business.

In life, you can get good at supplemental things but fail to develop those core skills. Things like emotional heath, friendship, and the value of hard work. If you miss out on these core skills but have a nice website, you’ll miss out on life.

In business, you can get good at related activities but fail to develop core competencies around the things that make the difference, and you’ll limp from quarter to quarter.  Building great products, meeting customer’s real needs and leading a healthy team are far more important than becoming well known in your niche or making a list of successful companies.

In other words, stop focusing on the supplements and focus on the main thing.

Gary Keller, the author of The 1 Thing, says if disproportionate results come from one activity, then you must give that one activity disproportionate time.

That’s true in life and in business.

So don’t get sidetracked by all the supplements.

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