From Failing Business to $100M Company

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From a Failing Business to a $100 Million Company
When brothers Bert and John Jacobs hit adulthood in the late ’80s, they found themselves at a dead end, unsure of what to do with their lives.

Upon their return from a road trip, they decided to try starting a business together, designing and selling t-shirts under the brand name Jacob’s Gallery. They sold them at college dorms and street markets around Boston, but the business was far from a hit. They knew their target market was college students but just weren’t connecting with them. Taking inspiration from their road trip, they bought a van and traveled up and down the coast selling their wares at different colleges every night. It still didn’t hit, and as the business continued to fail, Bert’s girlfriend left him after her mom pointed out his continued shortcomings.

After returning from yet another unsuccessful trip, the brothers threw a party for their friends to get honest feedback on their designs. John had drawn up a simple design inspired by his determination to stay positive after all the negativity they’d been enduring. The design, featuring a smiling man in a beret with the phrase “Life Is Good,” was an overwhelming hit at the party. They’d found their message.

They printed 48 of these t-shirts to sell at a street fair in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which all sold out within an hour. They offered a second run of the t-shirts to a small shop in Cape Cod; those sold out within weeks as word spread. Within a year, they’d made $87,000, then $262,000 the next. After three years, they hit $1 million and finally had their first employees.

Today the Life Is Good brand is worth over $100 million per year and pays 160 employees. The brothers’ story of determination and overcoming failure shows that as long as you refuse to give up, success will come.

How to Win Big in Today’s Economy

The altered economic landscape presents innovative and nimble businesses with opportunities to thrive. Find out how by requesting my free report “How to Win Big in Today’s Economy.”

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Avoid the Trap of Too Many Meetings
With the structure of the working world changing so much over the last few years, the way we work is bound to change as well. With a lot of us now working flex hours from home or remotely, we run the risk of 9 to 5 looking more like 9 to 9.

So why are we having so many meetings? According to a study from Microsoft, our new working habits mean we now have three peaks of motivation, as opposed to just two. In office culture, we tend to have a peak just before lunch and just after, but whilst we’re working from home, we also get one in the evening between 8 and 10 p.m. In fact, we’re working more than ever.

This may be due to the fact that we are infusing our non-work life with work and our work life with leisure. Ever sat on a Zoom call while scrolling Twitter and Instagram? Because we also have fewer boundaries now, it makes sense to just respond to some of those pesky emails whilst sitting down to watch Late Night.

By the end of 2020, the number of meetings doubled. We expect everyone to be working synonymously. Jumping on a Zoom call feels like an easy way to catch up when you can’t just walk over to their desk, but it leaves a lot of us with calendars starting to resemble Tetris and no time to get anything else done. But we don’t have to do things this way. Remote managers need to be the ones organizing time so that everyone gets the most out of their day. Not everything needs to be in real time. Consider one or two days a week with no meetings, record important Zoom calls for workers in different time zones to catch up later and always ask yourself, “Could this be said in an email?”

Let’s Connect

Worth Reading

New Rules of Storytelling
Erin Spens
In this beautifully illustrated article, Erin Spens uses Aristotle’s 2,000-year-old template of a good story to ask seven creatives at the top of their fields how it fits into their processes. Feel inspired by Samin Nosrat’s take on food, musician and composer Hrishikesh Hirway’s take on rhythm, or La La Land’s Reshma Gajjar’s take on spectacle.
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MPB Guide to Conveying Emotion in Photography
Bronson Farr
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In this seven-minute video, photographer Bronson Farr details his personal experiences and tips and tricks that have made him the photographer he is today. He is known for creating emotive images even with his most commercial clients. This video is the perfect watch for anyone who wants to up their photography game and capture real emotions in their business shots.
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How to Prioritize Authentic Business Decisions
When you’re starting your own business, it is important to make choices and brand decisions that are authentic to you and your vision. It’s easy to look at what everyone else is doing and get caught up in following the trends of other brands in order to chase success, but you’re more likely to succeed if you stick to your guns.

Make authentic choices

Create a set of core values so that you know who you are and how you want your business to be perceived going forward. Instead of creating a five-year plan for what you want to achieve, really pinpoint what your vision is for your brand. Then the interesting projects that will elevate you will fall into your lap.

Build a trustworthy team

You’re only as strong as your weakest link, so make a team full of steel chains. By that, we don’t mean ruthless people but rather people who align with your brand values and mission statement. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Nurture talent

And when you build that dream team, foster the talent you see. A company scared to nurture and promote their staff for fear of being outgrown creates a toxic work environment, and that’s not something you want to be taking with you.


New technology, new projects, and new ideas appear on the business scene all the time, so be ready for them. Don’t repel change; welcome it. Not every trend will work for you, but you don’t get far in life without a little risk.

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Links You Can Use – Creating Great Visuals
Whether you are a graphic design whiz or not, creating great visuals for your business’s social media can be really hard. Don’t fret; here are some tips from around the internet to help get you started.

12 Tips for Creating Engaging Visual Content on Social Media

This Hootsuite article lists 12 tips to help you create a visual presence online, whether that’s Instagram, Facebook, or even LinkedIn. It demonstrates creative basics, nailing the grid, and even sizing hacks.

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15 Graphic Design Tips for Beginners & Non-Designers

Even if you are a graphic designer, you can always learn more about the craft. These 15 tips from Visme work for the best and the beginners in the business.

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10 Content Ideas to Make Your Social Media Stand Out

Did you know there are nearly three billion social media users worldwide? Give this article from Inc. a read to keep up with content ideas.

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No More Boring Images – 13 Sites To Get Better Visuals For Your Website

Sometimes we need a stock image, but it’s hard to know where to go. Bitcatcha gives us 13 (mostly free) sites to source all our aesthetic image needs.

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Exploring Randall Munson’s Lessons from Disney
Whoever you are and whatever you know, you can always learn something from someone (or somewhere) else. This is especially true of famed author, facilitator, and founder of International Creativity Month, Randall Munson, on his trip to Disney World. We’re not just talking about how to run a theme park or even how to tell a story; these are some of the lessons Mr. Munson uncovered on his excursion.

Good enough is good enough

This lesson comes to us from the Jungle Cruise ride. Whereas Disney could put a lot of money into revamping the ride with a lot more technology and shiny new things, they don’t. Sure, they keep it up and have added a few little updates throughout the years, but the ride works just as it was made and is still incredibly popular, so why change it? Instead of putting their perfectionist energy into an old ride, they use the drive to come up with new ideas. In other words, stop stressing about the one project you worked on five years ago. Perhaps you can keep adding to it to make it better, but if it works, it works. Put your energy into new ideas and make each one better than the last. Keep going forwards, not back.

Be nice

The “be kind” movement has gained a lot of momentum in recent years, but a lot of us aren’t really sure how to take it into the working world. Randall Munson’s number one lesson? If you have to correct someone, be nice. Don’t come from a place of blame, and don’t respond from a place of defence. Accept that everyone is just trying to do their job and move on.

Details matter

There is an attention to detail across all parks that makes you feel warm, fuzzy, and accepted. There is music playing at just the right level, and that music changes depending on what world you’re in. All around, you see people dancing, humming, or generally being lifted by the tunes drifting through the park. Randall notes it’s these small details that round the experience. This small investment is part of the larger return.

This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter.