TheUnemploymentDojo's Blog

As conventional employment becomes a less desired model for earning a living, more and more people are looking for alternatives. For starters, time and freedom are the two assets that most people value and appreciate  and for some reason most jobs seem to rob them both. The time to do what you want and the freedom to do it! One way to earn them back is by creating a business. Unfortunately when i started, there were countless mistakes i made along the way! Heck i’ll be darned if there was anything i was doing right! In 2003, I had an idea! I found a t-shirt manufacturer in Pakistan and ordered 800 pieces with photos of hero’s that had inspired me!Created a website and was going to sell them at $20 a piece! That’s $16,000 for a deal that i had projected on a business plan to grow 10 times that in a year based on what successful companies were doing! How naive! The website was up, the t-shirts were on their way and i was going to make tons of money, right!WRONG!

Mistakes I made and the lessons i learned!

  1. First of i had never ordered samples from this manufacturer! The fabric was so bad, i had to pay a homeless guy to even consider wearing the t-shirt! (That’s how bad they were!) Goodwill rejected them and even tried to sell them as mopping fabric! After 3 years of emotional drain, I left them in a dumpster in Cary, North Carolina and never looked back! Lesson 1. Know who your supplier is! If the business model gravitates around that supplier know in the bare minimum who they are! Heck if your going to build a business, own your real estate or build it! Real estate or leverage is having the 3 pillars, the factory, the client acquisition process and the clients! If you don’t have at least the clients and the acquisition process, then you don’t have a business!
  2. Pillar Number 1. The factory comes after the customers! This should be the first lesson of business! The truth about customers! Chant this even in your sleep! Clients are not looking to make you rich, they don’t care about you starting your business and at every turn they are looking to run away from any offer you have UNLESS (and this is the only exception) it benefits them way more than it benefits you! This was the meanest ugliest calm your nerves down experience that humbled me more than sleeping on my friends couch in college with no where to go! Facebook, twitter, Youtube those are channels to acquire real estate pillar #1. Clients! The greatest challenge has been to answer these two questions! Do we start by selling what the market wants (“sell out”) or do we innovate and do what we want with respect to the market? (authentic to self!) The best answer i know how is to have the interest of the market first! That means do whatever it takes, to get the market and I don’t mean light a fire on a cold winter evening outside you’re prospects house awaiting them to come home from work to sell them a product! Use a bit of finesse! Think about all the things they worry about, going to work, dropping the kids at school, paying bills, cooking, loosing that 20 pounds they gained during the holidays, and still finding the time to chit chat with Aunty Jemima who wasn’t feeling to well three weeks ago! What can you do to make these activities less daunting! If you have to ask them, please do, they won’t hesitate to tell you and when they do, implement in to the product! Acquiring this real estate is using your skills (authentic to self!) to sell what the market wants. (“sell out”)
  3. The 2nd pillar of this Real Estate is the process! If the process of moving clients from where they are to where they want to be is complicated, then you don’t have a business because your loosing real estate #1. Can you imagine yourself building a house on Mount Rainier or Everest and the truck that is carrying the bricks has to go up the mountain with steepness of 60 to 80 degrees from the ground? Every time one truck of bricks attempts the climb the elevation causes all the bricks to come tumbling down! What if you could chart a pathway that is slightly steep but spiral that reduces steepness by going round the mountain to the top rather than up the mountain in one steep climb? That’s exactly what you do when your process is undefined. Chart out the process by answering these questions. How will the client move from A to B to C? What experience will clients attain while on the pathway? What is cost effective to you? How can you WOW your clients while they take the journey?
  4. The last pillar to real estate is the production! Mark you i said production. If someone else owns the production that means at a drop of a dime, they can steal your business from you! They can switch their algorithm and your customers go unfulfilled which in turn makes you go unfulfilled! If you don’t own the production, make plans to do so in the near future! Own the client acquisition process, own the client database and then finally own the product/service production process! I had outsourced the t-shirt production to someone else who didn’t care about my “potential imaginary” clients(the ones who were going to make me a fortune without them even knowing! Mistake #1) like i did! I hadn’t met them and i didn’t even have backup manufactures and the worst thing i did was pay them upfront! Never ever pay the whole amount upfront even if you have it 10 times over! Learned that lesson again during my wedding!(Another story!)
  5. Finally the idea here isn’t to sell the product only, that’s short term and very temporary, the long term strategy is to add so much value to client’s lives that they would give you money to make sure you don’t ever have to do anything else(career wise) but what it is our good at! If your clients want you that bad, then you have a true business!

It’s not easy and it’s very very doable!

Make 2014 the best year possible!

PS: If your comfortable with what you do for work, stay happy, don’t start a business! If you’re seeking a thrill and heartbreak and tears and joy, very polarized, conflicting extreme experiences and challenges, then a business may offer you that alternative with ease! All in all there is no guarantee that a business will make you anything and if I insinuate that in anyway with this article, please correct me! This disclaimer has not been bludgeoned out of me by the FTC. I am doing it just to inform you that before you make any kind of investment please seek sound advice! It will be in your best benefit!

PPS: I’m not selling anything! 


Lee Kariuki


To all fans, readers and followers i would like to wish you a happy happy 2014 and a prosperous one at that. Now i should have written this post prior to the New Year but a had a family emergency to handle over the break. Anyway, i won’t take anymore of your time but will be brief and specific.

Time awaits no one and if there is something you want to do, do it. You will regret what you didn’t do than what you did! When you fail or experience a catastrophe it is one small bump relative to the other experiences in your life. Don’t put too much emphasis on it! Speak and negotiate from a position of strength and value rather than from fear. Now with that out of the way here is the strategy of setting goals.

The Strategy for setting goals

  1. When setting goals, start from where you are right now……that should be your start. I see people stating that they would like to loose weight in 2014 but that means nothing at all. Before you set that goal you need to measure where you are, then determine where you would like to be. The relativity aspect is always skipped and a goal without a reference point is no goal. It’s just a statement.
  2. Get specific. I am going to make more money in 2014. No sense in that either. The brain whether you know it or not is laughing at you as there are no specifics to it. So what does it do…Nothing! You haven’t inspired it to take any action yet due to your non specificity! I want to make 20,000 dollars extra in 4 months by writing a $ 23 book and then selling consultation at $ 247 in 2 hourly sessions. Very specific.
  3. Start with your values. When setting goals if your values and what you believe in are a disconnect with what you think you want to accomplish, you will fail miserably! I want to get married because Nancy and Judy are married is not a reflection of your values. I want to get married because i believe i have a lot to share, a lot to offer and would love to have a life long companion who will grow with me and have children together. Success is doing what you want to do not because you don’t want to be left out by Nancy and Judy.
  4. Map out a reverse action checklist. Start with the big goal, and work backwards all the way to the daily goal or even hourly goal if possible. The brain loves structure and the more structured you are the more likely you are to accomplish your goals.
  5. Write your goals out of power and creativity. Most goals are written from an egocentric standpoint of “need to”!  Very very wrong attitude when writing goals. The goals that you write should be from a place of child like enthusiasm and “let see what happens….”  after a huge suspension of disbelief. Remember the main secret of accomplishment is compounding action. If you start with a “need to” attitude, very soon your “why” will burnout and you will be abandoning goal after goal right smack in the middle. Get a good solid “why” and then set the goal and release a let see what will happen attitude with enthusiasm drive and happiness.
  6. Set goals that  are actionable with plenty of verbs. Write 10 pages a day. Bench 3 sets of 150 pounds every alternate day. While writing your goals if you don’t feel like doing what your writing at that exact time, then you will have a hard time accomplishing your goal. The secret is to use verbs that signal action when you read them.
  7. Have a daily checklist and preferably look at it the previous night right before you go to bed. That will put the goals in to your subconscious so that the next day when you wake up you already know exactly what to do. Your deeds should be leading to your becoming and what i mean by that is that what matters is not what you are doing, but who you are becoming by virtue of compounded action. It is the compounded action that makes a difference. The beauty of the checklist is when you cross out accomplished tasks……the dopa-mine release is amazing!
  8. If for some reason you are not able to accomplish all your goals on a certain day, do the one that will reinforce the feeling of “This day didn’t go to waste because i accomplished……” and that has the same impact as the cross out dopa-mine release.
  9. Review your goals every 7 days. This is what bridges the gap between “woo woo out there goals” and “goals that are actionable and making sense” You may need a partner or a guide who will sit with you and see what you can’t see or “normalize” he set goals to your abilities.  A lot of times we set goals that are too out there or are too safe because our brains are filled with fear of failure or fear of accomplishment.(yes there are many people who are scared of accomplishments!)
  10. Have fun. Lots of it. The journey must be as equally exiting as the destination. Most goals are set from a destination delayed excitement once goal is met mindset. That will drain you besides who wants to wait for the excitement at the end? I wan’t mine now while setting the goals!

Follow these rules and i can give you my word, you will not be disappointed at all. Yes eve if you work for the FTC.( I know how much you love disclaimers!)

With that Happy happy new year and go set a goal or something!

Lee Kariuki

What seems unrelated always couples up in the end with profound meaning intensity and purpose. The law o counter intuition states that things we expect to happen rarely happen as planned with a sense of questionable logic! Experiments that become wildly successful are the ones that no bias or preconceived knowledge was accessible. There were no assumptions. If an assumption has to be made, then a bias has been introduced.

The most complex of problems are solved when one is not really proactively thinking about the problem. The discovery of gravity was accomplished by sitting under a tree to to discover gravity but to take a power nap under the shade. All those unrelated “useless” endeavors that you encountered or pursued while growing up merge in a beautiful collage to create one of your greatest creations and only at the merging point do they all make sense.

It is pointless to follow or listen to people who advise you to stick to one thing when your hearts fulfillment and passion are not up to the task! It is also pointless to choose one thing when we internally are the embodiment of many minute independent systems that work together for the overall goal of the larger picture, the body.

When faced with a dilemma, don’t dwell on it! Instead do the most counter intuitive thing and there lies a solution. Henry Ford one of Americas great entrepreneurs solved a auto supply pipeline problem by observing a complete unrelated industry, the meat industry! If you have a business problem, go study biology! If you have an emotional problem, go study mathematics! The more polarized the better that is the more left and right brained apart, the better to finding the solution!

Test and Enjoy!

Lee Kariuki

The greatest dilemma in data analysis is determining what is noise and what is your signal. What is information and what is data. What is beneficial and what is waste. It rarely jumps at you and the only way to find the diamond in a rough is to have a tested sorting system. Then comes the bias and the personal experiences and the emotions all that interferes with the separation process.

One wise data analyst gave me some words of wisdom.

“Question the question and reject the answer”

May be too skeptical but the true sense of continuous improvement is to question the status quo. In true sense we never really know what is good and beneficial and what is detrimental. I’m just thinking, before our great great grandfathers and ancestors new what was nutritious food and what was poisonous, many many people died as a result. It’s the cost of a lesson. As you grow, you start developing certain elimination practices that quickly size up a situation and eliminates waste. That is growth and it only comes from exposure and training….not time. As more and more content is being pumped out majority of it is noise. Train yourself to determine what is the signal hidden within the noise!

Even your immunity needs to be trained determine what is a foreign attack and what is foreign benefit otherwise every time we eat, our immune system would attack the food. That’s why we have vaccines!

Have a wonderful weekend.

Lee Kariuki

I am shocked. Flabberglasted. Deeply astounded and astonished. Targeting evangelists is a noble thing and a beautiful marketing strategy. The first 100 will determine if your business gathers traction. What that means in lay man terms is that after the first 100 prospects interact with your business and they have not acted, then it is time to pivot.(change the course of the hypothesis) Then even before we get in to the interaction of the first 100, there is an evangelist in the room that everyone takes for granted.

The Creator!

He is charged with the greatest responsibility of effectively communicating the hypothesis in terms that can be understood easily by the end users and potential evangelists! If his or her message is watery the mark is missed and if the message is too complex, the boat has sailed.

The True Test.

Before you even embark on testing any idea, ask this fundamental question am i enthused about promoting this idea? If the answer is a gigantic NO then leave the elephant alone. It will weigh you down. Having watched episodes of the pitching TV series “The Shark Tank” one fundamental property of what gets the venture capitalists on board is the energy and enthusiasm of the pitch prospect. If you can’t be excited about your product, short of curing cancer, your product will be a potential miss! This is in no way to say that being an enthused evangelist alone will make you successful…..nope. Many variables have to match but if i was to start somewhere, i would start with what captures my heart and soul and then what the market wants! This is in no way a contradiction to what i have always preached….(start with the end user) It’s a fabrication. For longevity of your business, start with the end user with reference to something that resonates with who you are!


That’s it!

Remember, you are the number one evangelist of your product and if you are not excited….how do you expect to excite the first 100?

Lee Kariuki

I respected it. I promoted it. I wrote a book on it and now in a less than two years, branding is officially dead. If you are a start up focusing on branding and market share you may want to read this piece. The way to grow a company is to focus on metrics. Engineers and statisticians are the new marketers. They make decisions based on iterative tests, tweeks and offers using as little as possible and in the shortest time possible. Three things important.

  1. Understanding product development with inbuilt marketing. Marketing is now a component of product development not an independent entity.
  2. Customer development which is based on creating a customer rather than enclosing them in a per-assumed category or demographic.
  3. It’s all about the test baby. Cheap efficient and direct. Mark you, all this is done before a product is even created.

Collectively this phenomenon has a word in Silicon Valley. Growth Hacking.

Stay put on how this can be incorporated in to your business right right now simply cheaply and effectively.


Lee Kariuki

Very simple. Humanize it. As fake shallow conversations transpire, they have no resonance with your audience. Cheap talk about the weather, the news show that you really are not intimately connected with the individual.

  • Imagine your client as a great friend. How would you start a conversation? How about what’s been going on and how have you been?Get personal.
  • That’s a wonderful dress you have on or the tie matches perfectly with your shirt color…as a starter. Get uncomfortable to make them comfortable. Starting with compliments may be the hardest thing for you especially if you find it hard accepting compliments.
  • Ask questions. How often do you shop at…..Listen intimately and don’t interrupt. Interruption means whatever you’re saying has no bearing to me or is unimportant.(Very rude habit!) Let it be about them.
  • Make it easy for them to approach you. For someone to approach you and feel comfortable talking to you, you must be an approachable person. You become approachable by showing interest and not “badgering” the other party to volunteer information. They can only do it when they are ready. Most people either due to heartaches,painful pasts, current problems or even fear of judgement do not volunteer information readily. You’re job is to make them feel comfortable so that whenever they are ready, the information can flow seamlessly.
  • Finally don’t criticize. Even if you feel justified and mandated, don’t do it. It creates a wall and despise between you and your client. Make them genuinely feel important. The way you treat your clients will very much correlate with the take home you will make and eventually how you relate with people. The rewards are in the relationship.


Enjoy the Monday!

Lee Kariuki


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Lee Kariuki
1-888-MY-ETHER ext. 04466282

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